Following a series of trials and setbacks, Virgin Galactic is ready for its inaugural commercial spaceflight — set to commence today, provided everything goes according to the company’s plan. The flight, christened Galactic 01, is slated to take off from Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America base in New Mexico just after 11AM Eastern time. The entire event can be streamed live via the Virgin Galactic website or viewed in the video below.
The journey will accommodate a trio from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy, transporting them to suborbital space aboard the VSS Unity — Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, which had its initial journey to space in 2018. The 90-minute flight will facilitate the execution of 13 scientific experiments. One particular test involves passenger Col. Walter Villadei donning a cutting-edge smart suit to track his physiological reactions and biometric data during space travel.
Despite registering a net loss of $159.4 million in the quarter that concluded on March 31st this year — nearly double the loss recorded for the same timeframe last year, Virgin Galactic is hopeful. A successful Galactic 01 mission will pave the way for increased and regular future launches, bringing the company closer to profitability. Assuming a seamless operation, the company aims to initiate the Galactic 02 mission, carrying a private crew, in early August. Subsequently, Virgin Galactic intends to schedule monthly suborbital flights, levying a charge of $450,000 per passenger.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Virgin Galactic’s inaugural commercial spaceflight
When is Virgin Galactic’s first commercial spaceflight taking off?
The inaugural commercial spaceflight, known as Galactic 01, is planned to launch today if everything goes as per the company’s plan.
From where will Galactic 01 launch?
Galactic 01 will launch from Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America facility located in New Mexico.
Who will be aboard Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight?
A three-person crew from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy will be on the inaugural commercial spaceflight.
What is the purpose of the flight?
This 90-minute journey is not just a commercial spaceflight. It will facilitate the crew in conducting 13 scientific experiments in suborbital space.
What’s special about Col. Walter Villadei’s role in the flight?
Col. Walter Villadei will be wearing a state-of-the-art smart suit that will measure his physiological responses and biometric data in space.
How is Virgin Galactic’s financial performance?
For the quarter ending March 31st this year, Virgin Galactic posted a net loss of $159.4 million, almost double from the same period a year ago.
What are Virgin Galactic’s plans for the future?
If the Galactic 01 mission is successful, the company plans to carry out more frequent launches, leading eventually to profitability. The next launch, Galactic 02, is planned for early August, and subsequently, the company plans to organize monthly suborbital flights, charging $450,000 per seat.