Virgin Galactic has announced the start of commercial spaceflight services for summer 2023, with monthly departures from autumn onwards. Jenny Southan reports
After a successful test mission in May 2023, Virgin Galactic announced the commencement of commercial spaceline operations, almost two years after Richard Branson personally made the ascent in summer 2021.
The first milestone commercial spaceflight, “Galactic 01”, is planned to fly between June 27 and June 30, 2023. The second commercial spaceflight, “Galactic 02”, will follow in early August 2023, with monthly spaceflights expected thereafter.
According to The Times, more than 1,500 people have reserved tickets – among them celebrities including actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie, and the musician Lady Gaga. (Imagine what this will do for the image of the company if it successfully takes these public figures into space.)Virgin Galactic’s team and vehicles are ready to fly the company’s first customers to space, having successfully completed the Unity 25 spaceflight and subsequent routine analysis and vehicle inspections.
“Galactic 01”, a scientific research mission, will carry three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy to conduct microgravity research. With scientific payloads on board, the spaceflight will showcase the value and power of the unique suborbital science lab that Virgin Galactic offers.
“Galactic 02”, which will bring Virgin Galactic’s unique experience to private astronauts, is planned for early August. Details regarding the crew and manifest for initial flights will be released in advance of each mission.Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, says: “We are launching the first commercial spaceline for Earth with two dynamic products — our scientific research and private astronaut space missions. This next exciting chapter for Virgin Galactic has been driven by innovation, determination and a commitment to delivering an unparalleled and truly transformative customer experience.”
Livestreams for both “Galactic 01” and “Galactic 02” missions will be available to view on virgingalactic.com.