LAS CRUCES, N.M. July 11, 2021 – Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“the Company”
or “Virgin Galactic”) today announced that VSS Unity successfully reached space, completing
the Company’s fourth rocket-powered spaceflight.
Today’s flight was the 22nd test flight of VSS Unity and the first test flight with a full crew in
the cabin, including the Company’s founder, Sir Richard Branson. The crew fulfilled a
number of test objectives related to the cabin and customer experience, including
evaluating the commercial customer cabin, the views of Earth from space, the conditions for
conducting research and the effectiveness of the five-day pre-flight training program at
Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said: “Today is a landmark
achievement for the Company and a historic moment for the new commercial space
industry. With each successful mission we are paving the way for the next generation of
astronauts. I want to thank our talented team, including our pilots and crew, whose
dedication and commitment made today possible. They are helping open the door for
greater access to space – so it can be for the many and not just for the few.”
VSS Unity achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from the mothership, VMS Eve.
The vehicle reached space, at an altitude of 53.5 miles, before gliding smoothly to a runway
landing at Spaceport America.
This seminal moment for Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson was witnessed by
audiences around the world. It gave a glimpse of the journey Virgin Galactic’s Future
Astronauts can expect when the Company launches commercial service following the
completion of its test flight program. A recording of the livestream can be accessed on
Virgin Galactic’s YouTube channel.
Sir Richard Branson said: “I have dreamt about this moment since I was a child, but nothing
could have prepared me for the view of Earth from space. We are at the vanguard of a new
space age. As Virgin’s founder, I was honoured to test the incredible customer experience as
part of this remarkable crew of mission specialists and now astronauts. I can’t wait to share
this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world.”
Branson continued, “Our mission is to make space more accessible to all. In that spirit, and
with today’s successful flight of VSS Unity, I’m thrilled to announce a partnership with
Omaze and Space for Humanity to inspire the next generation of dreamers. For so long, we
have looked back in wonder at the space pioneers of yesterday. Now, I want the astronauts
of tomorrow to look forward and make their own dreams come true.”
The mission specialists in the cabin were Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor; Colin
Bennett, Lead Flight Operations Engineer; Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government
Affairs and Research Operations; and the Company’s founder, Sir Richard Branson. The VSS
Unity pilots were Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, while Kelly Latimer and CJ Sturckow
piloted VMS Eve.