3 Italian Passengers Soar on Virgin Galactic’s First Commercial Spaceflight

3 Italian Passengers Soar on Virgin Galactic’s First Commercial Spaceflight
Virgin Galactic completed its first successful commercial spaceflight about the VSS Unity spacecraft Thursday carrying three Italians to suborbital space. Photo Courtesy of Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic successfully completed its inaugural commercial spaceflight on Thursday. The VSS Unity spacecraft carried three Italian passengers to suborbital space. Photo Courtesy of Virgin Galactic.

June 29 (UPI) — Virgin Galactic achieved a major milestone by conducting its first-ever commercial flight with three passengers. These individuals paid $450,000 each for the privilege.

The mission, known as SpaceShipTwo, was carried out by the VSS Unity spacecraft, which departed from New Mexico. The spacecraft was propelled to the edge of space after being released from the VMS Eve Spaceship Carrier aircraft at a height of approximately 50,000 feet.

VSS Unity was piloted by Nicole Pecile and Mike Masucci, while Colonel Walter Villadei and Lieutenant Angelo Landolfi of the Italian Air Force, along with Pantaleone Carlucci from the Italian National Research Council, were among the Italian passengers on this historic flight to suborbital space. Accompanying them was Virgin Galactic’s Astronaut Instructor Colin Bennett.

“Galactic 01” marks Virgin Galactic’s first commercial spaceflight, chosen to support the Italian Air Force and National Research Council on their first-ever space research mission called “Virtue 1”. CEO Micheal Colglazier stated, “Virgin Galactic’s research missions will revolutionize access to space for government and research institutions in the future.”

Throughout the mission, Virgin Galactic provided live updates on Twitter. The company excitedly tweeted, “We have Galactic 01 take-off from Spaceport New Mexico!” at 10:39 a.m. They also informed followers at 11:08 a.m., “VSS Unity is currently climbing to release altitude. Our Galactic 01 crew from the Italian Air Force and Italian National Research Council are preparing to conduct 13 scientific research experiments throughout the stages of flight.” By 11:37 a.m., Virgin Galactic announced that the VSS Unity had successfully reached space. They tweeted, “Benvenuti nello spazio, Galactic 01! Our crew from the Italian Air Force and Italian National Research Council have reached space.” At 11:49 a.m., the company joyfully declared, “Welcome back to Earth, Galactic 01! Our pilots, crew, and spaceship have landed smoothly at Spaceport New Mexico.”

Colglazier celebrated the mission’s success, stating, “Today, our team successfully flew six people and more than a dozen research payloads to space in VSS Unity, our unique suborbital science lab. This historic flight was our first commercial flight and our first dedicated commercial research mission.” He also announced plans for the next commercial spaceflight, “Galactic 02,” which will involve private astronauts and is scheduled for August. Virgin Galactic aims to continue monthly space missions with the VSS Unity while also working towards expanding their spaceship fleet to cater to a global audience.

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