Virgin Galactic successfully completes its sixth commercial spaceflight

Virgin Galactic, an US private spaceflight company, has successfully completed its sixth commercial spaceflight on Friday, January 26, 2024.

The mission, called Galactic 06, carried four passengers into space and back to Earth. They are Lina Borozdina from Ukraine, Franz Haider from Austria, Robie Vaughn, and Neil Kornswiet from the US.

Galactic 06 passengers inside the space plane VSS Unity
Galactic 06 passengers inside the space plane VSS Unity. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Lina Borozdina becomes the first Ukrainian woman to reach space, according to Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic’s carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, took the space plane VSS Unity up to a height of about 45,000 feet (13,700 meters) to release VSS Unity.

VMS Eve took off at about 12:00 p.m. EST (17:00 UTC) from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

VSS Unity ignited its rocket motor to head up into orbital space
VSS Unity ignited its rocket motor to head up into suborbital space. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

The VSS Unity then ignited its rocket motor and headed up to suborbital space, reaching a height of about 55 miles (88 kilometers) from sea level with a top speed of 2.98 Mach.

The VSS Unity space plane then descended alone as a glider and landed on Spaceport America in New Mexico at 12:56 p.m. EST (17:56 UTC).

Galactic 06 passengers experienced a few minutes of weightlessness and a chance to see our home planet from space.

Each Galactic 06 passenger paid $450,000 to go into space through Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity.

The live webcast of this mission has not been shown. However, the company provided regular updates on X (former Twitter).

Galactic 06 was the sixth commercial spaceflight and overall 11th spaceflight to date for the company.

It was the first flight for Virgin Galactic in 2024 and one of the last flights for VSS Unity, as VSS Unity will retire in 2024.

VSS Unity has been working since 2016, and after the retirement of VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic will carry out its spaceflight operations through its next-generation Delta-class vehicles.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said in a statement “Today the incredible team at Virgin Galactic supported another successful mission and delivered an unforgettable experience for four new astronauts. The success of ‘Galactic 06’ and the Company’s other commercial spaceflights in recent months only increases our confidence in the repeatability of our product and our ability to deliver a superlative experience to our customers. With the production of our next-generation Delta-class ships underway, we look forward to expanding our flight capacity with testing expected to start next year and commercial service in 2026.”

Another US private spaceflight company, Blue Origin, is a competitor of Virgin Galactic in the space tourism industry. Blue Origin sends passengers into suborbital space through its New Shepard reusable rocket.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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