Skip to main content

Virgin Galactic video shows off weightless experience in spaceplane

Virgin Galactic launched its first fully crewed trip to the edge of space on Sunday, July 11, with company founder Richard Branson one of four passengers taking a seat aboard the VSS Unity spaceplane.

The 15-minute experience offered us the best look yet at how a Virgin Galactic space tourism ride will unfold when the company starts accepting paying passengers in 2022.

Virgin Galactic's First Fully Crewed Spaceflight #Unity22

As you can see in the video above, the real fun begins at 50,000 feet when the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, releases VSS Unity. As it begins to drop, Unity’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, fire up its rocket engine to blast the crew to the edge of space.

After just 60 seconds, the spaceplane’s speed reaches 2,214 mph and the passengers are cleared to unfasten their seat belts so they can experience several minutes of weightlessness inside the cabin.

At a peak altitude of about 282,000 feet (53.4 miles/86 km), Branson’s three crewmates, Beth Moses, Colin Bennett, Sirisha Bandla, can be seen having fun floating around the cabin, though the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic stays strapped firmly in his seat as he delivers an inspirational message to any children watching the spectacle.

Eventually, Branson unfastens his seat belt to experience a period of weightlessness inside Unity, while at the same time marveling at the expansive and beautiful views of Earth through the spaceplane’s many windows.

The pilots then instruct the passengers to return to their seats for the short flight back to the runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

From the firing of Unity’s rocket engine to the landing at Spaceport America, the experience lasts just 15 minutes.

Sunday’s test flight appeared to go exactly according to plan, paving the way for the launch of a space tourism service sometime next year.

Seats for Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight experience will cost an eye-watering $250,000, but following his test ride at the weekend, Branson launched a contest offering two free tickets for a flight in early 2022.

Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is also aiming to launch a similar space tourism service this year or next. Bezos will join his brother and aviation pioneer Wally Funk to take the first-ever crewed trip on his New Shepard rocket in a test mission set to launch just days from now.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Virgin Galactic shares footage of final space tourism flight test
Virgin Galactic's space plane heading to the edge of space.

Virgin Galactic has successfully completed what should be its final test flight before launching commercial services for its sub-orbital rocket flights next month.

Thursday's mission was the second fully crewed test flight following the first one in 2021 when Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson flew with five others to the edge of space in the rocket-powered VSS Unity aircraft.

Read more
Virgin Galactic sets date for first fully crewed rocket trip since 2021
virgin galactic sets date for final test of rocket plane vss unity flight

Space tourism company Virgin Galactic is just days away from what should be its final fully crewed test flight before a commercial launch this summer.

The team has announced that it’s currently targeting Thursday, May 25, for a mission that will see four crewmembers blasted to the edge of space aboard the rocket-powered VSS Unity plane.

Read more
Virgin Galactic announces first fully crewed flight since 2021
Virgin Galactic's space plane heading to the edge of space.

Space tourism company Virgin Galactic has announced plans for another test flight ahead of its first commercial mission this summer.

The test flight using its rocket-powered space plane will take place in “late May” and will be the company’s second fully crewed trip since Virgin founder Richard Branson and others tested the hardware in a successful flight in July 2021.

Read more