Today, Virgin Galactic successfully launched its spacecraft, VSS Unity, into space for the first time, reaching an apogee of 51.4 miles. VSS Unity also flew several microgravity experiments onboard as a part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, establishing another new low-cost capability for NASA and the microgravity research community to utilize.
“Today’s successful suborbital flight by SpaceShipTwo [VSS Unity] marks a major milestone for Virgin Galactic, as they take a step closer towards regular commercial launch operations” said CSF Chairman, Taber MacCallum, Co-founder and CTO of World View. “CSF applauds George Whitesides and the entire Virgin Galactic and The SpaceShip Company team on today’s accomplishment, as it joins a growing number of commercial space companies that are or will soon be providing cost-effective and frequent access to suborbital space for humans and research payloads.”
“There is certainly no end to the progress in the commercial space sector and the commitment to expand our space capabilities,” said CSF President, Eric Stallmer.
This flight marks the first suborbital human spaceflight from American soil since the retirement of the space shuttle. Bailey Edwards, FAA associate administrator for policy, international affairs and environment, commented that the pilots would be awarded FAA commercial astronaut wings in the near future.
“Congratulations to the entire team at Virgin Galactic,” said Stallmer. “The determination and innovation driven by CSF members and the commercial space industry will create unprecedented opportunities for space tourism and democratize space for all.”