Virgin Galactic spaceship Unity carrying a crew of four, including British billionaire Richard Branson, dabbled into space and returned to Earth safely, a live stream of the event showed on Sunday.
IMAGE: Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson sprays the crew with champagne after they were announced as astronauts for flying Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket plane VSS Unity to the edge of space at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on July 11, 2021. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters
After separating from the mothership, Unity went up about 62 miles, briefly exposing the crew to zero gravity, Sputnik reported.
IMAGE: VSS Unity descends after reaching the edge of space. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters
This marked Unity’s first test of suborbital flight, helping Virgin Galactic to demonstrate that space tourism is safe.
IMAGE: Sunday’s high-altitude launch of the VSS Unity rocket plane marks the company’s 22nd test flight of its SpaceShipTwo system, and its fourth crewed mission beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters
Earlier, the spaceship took off from a spaceport in New Mexico, with United Kingdom billionaire Branson on board.
IMAGE: Virgin Galactic, the company Branson founded, is poised to begin commercial spaceflights next year. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters
The ship carried a crew of four including Virgin Galactic’s owner, Branson and Indian-American Sirisha Bandla.
IMAGE: VSS Unity during its ascent to the edge of space. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters
The flight conducted more than 20 test flights, three of which have reached the edge of space, CNN reported.
IMAGE: Branson with his crew prior to boarding VSS Unity. Photograph: Joe Skipper/Reuters
This was the first fully-crewed suborbital test of Unity.