Virgin Galactic announces the resumption of its space flights

Virgin Galactic announces the resumption of its space flights

Virgin Galactic says it will return to space in late May, with a mission carrying four of its employees, and start commercial flights in late June.

The Unity 25 mission will take place “at the end of May,” the space-tourism company founded by Britain’s Richard Branson announced on Monday. Branson himself had boarded his company’s last space flight in July 2021, nearly two years ago.

Since then, the company has been making modifications to its carrier aircraft and spacecraft. These upgrades are designed to improve the performance of the craft and their ability to fly more frequently.

Unity 25 will be the final evaluation of the complete space system and astronaut experience before the commercial flight service opens in late June, Virgin Galactic said.

Some 800 tickets presold at up to $450,000 each since 2005

The flights are taking place from the Spaceport America base in the New Mexico desert.

The Unity 25 crew will consist of two women and two men: Beth Moses, who has been on two previous space flights, Jamila Gilbert, Chris Huie, and Luke Mays, who spent several years training astronauts at NASA.

Virgin Galactic’s space programme has suffered years of delays, including a 2014 accident that killed a pilot.

The company has already pre-sold some 800 tickets to space: 600 between 2005 and 2014, priced between $200.000 and $250,000 each, and 200 more in recent years, at $450,000 dollars apiece.

Virgin Galactic competes with billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, which also offers short suborbital flights and has already sent 32 people into space.

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