Virgin Galactic announced on Sunday the 11th of July that the VSS Unity successfully reached space, completing the company’s fourth rocket-powered spaceflight. This flight was the 22nd test flight of the VSS Unity and the first 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 Spaceport America.
The 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.
“I have dream 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”, said Sir Branson, owner of Virgin Galactic.
“Our mission is to make space more accessible to all. In that spirit, and with today’s successful flight of VSS Unity, I am 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.”
Land Rover was part of the mission as Virgin Galactic completed its first ever fully crewed space flight, with founder Sir Branson on board as one of four mission specialists. The VVS Unity craft travelled with four mission specialists and two pilots on board. The six-strong crew started and completed their mission at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Sir Branson arrived for the ‘Unity 22’ mission in a Range Rover Astronaut Edition and after a safe landing his spacecraft was towed back to waiting well-wishers by a Land Rover Defender 110. Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial ‘spaceline’. It has already signed up around 600 future astronaut customers, who will be transported to their flights in vehicles supplied by partner Land Rover.
Land Rovers are part of daily life for the Virgin Galactic team, with roles which include towing the space vehicles, carrying equipment and clearing runways before take-off for the first private company to fly humans into space in a craft designed for commercial service.
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson and Jaguar Land Rover Chief Creative Officer Prof Gerry McGovern (Officer of the Order of the British Empire or OBE) unveiled the Range Rover Astronaut Edition in 2019. It was created by the Land Rover SV Bespoke division and is offered exclusively to Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut customers.
These luxury SUV’s celebrate the partnership’s shared values and the Future Astronaut community’s historic contribution to the democratisation of space.