Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo ‘Unity’ rocketplane flies successfully for last time

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Commercial human spaceflight, Launches, Seradata News, Virgin Galactic

On its final voyage to the edge of space, the Virgin Galactic suborbital rocket SpaceShipTwo ‘Unity’ was launched for the final time on its Galactic 07 human rocket flight mission to the edge of space.

The carrier aircraft VMS Eve lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico at 1428 GMT on 8 June 2024 with ‘Unity’ underslung from the aircraft. At 1526 GMT, Unity on its Galactic 07 mission was air-dropped from 44,500 feet at 1526 GMT and just a few seconds later fired its hybrid rocket engine.  After its rocket powered climb and subsequent ballistic trajectory to an apogee of 87 km which allowed a period of weightlessness for the then unstrapped passengers and crew, with them strapped back in, it made its ‘feathered’ re-entry and, having refixed its wing into a glide position, landed on the space port runway at 1541 GMT.

SpaceShipTwo ‘Unity’ makes its final blast off. Courtesy: Virgin Galactic

The humans on Galactic 07 were the astronaut Tuva Cihangir Atasever of the Turkish Space Agency who was performing microgravity experiments on behalf of Axiom Space, real estate executive Irving Izchak Pergament, and hotelier Giorgio Manenti. They were joined by SpaceX engineer Andy Sadhwani. The two pilot crew were Nicola Pecile and Jameel Janjua on his first flight.  This was the 12th human mission above the 80 km space boundary of the US Air Force (but below the official Karman 100 km limit of space which Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space tourism competitor Blue Origin New Shepard does reach). The mission was the seventh Virgin Galactic paying passenger mission.

The flight was the final one for the six-seat SpaceShipTwo design as the firm is transitioning to the larger 8 seat Delta class suborbital spaceplane.

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