After years of testing its rocket-powered plane, Virgin Galactic is finally ready to launch its first commercial flight on Thursday, June 29.
The company has just shared a video (above) introducing the three passengers who will be taking part in this week’s suborbital flight, which will involve a high-speed trip to the edge of space.
On board VSS Unity will be Colonel Walter Villadei and Lieutenant Colonel Angelo Landolfi, both of the Italian Air Force, and Pantaleone Carlucci of the National Research Council of Italy.
Virgin Galactic instructor Colin Bennett will also be aboard the plane, which will be piloted by Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile.
While many of the trips aboard VSS Unity will be for so-called “space tourists” to marvel at the incredible views of Earth and to enjoy a few moments of weightlessness inside the cabin, Thursday’s mission is geared toward science, with 13 different experiments set to be carried out in the microgravity conditions.
“VSS Unity’s cabin will be transformed into a suborbital science lab to provide the environment for rack-mounted payloads and for the crew to interact with wearable payloads,” Virgin Galactic said on Monday.
Virgin Galactic hopes that individuals and organizations from the science community will see VSS Unity trips as an ideal vehicle for carrying out science research.
Virgin Galactic’s flights involve two aircraft. First, VMS Eve carries Unity and its passengers to an altitude of about 50,000 feet. Eve then releases Unity, which immediately fires up its rocket engine to roar to a peak altitude of about 282,000 feet (53.4 miles/86 kilometers), about 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) short of the Kármán line, which is widely considered to be the point where space begins.
A video released by Virgin Galactic offers a detailed look at the kind of experience paying passengers can expect.
The 90-minute mission is set to take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) on Thursday, June 29.
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