SPACEPORT AMERICA, New Mexico (KVIA) -- Virgin Galactic successfully landed its Unity 25 test flight, marking a triumphant conclusion to a mission that showcased the company’s steady progress in advancing commercial space tourism.
The Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity, touched down smoothly after a successful round trip to suborbital space. With this mission, Virgin Galactic hopes to streamline the space travel experience and make the outer reaches of the planet more accessible to everyone. The crew on board was made up of Virgin Galactic employees including Las Cruces and NMSU alumni native Jamila Gilbert.
The mission began at Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic's hub in New Mexico. After detaching from its mothership, VMS Eve, Unity ascended towards the edge of space, reaching a peak altitude of approximately 55 miles (88 kilometers) – just above the Kármán line that marks the boundary of space.
As the ship neared apogee, passengers enjoyed several minutes of weightlessness, a uniquely thrilling experience that future space tourists can anticipate. From this point, Unity began its descent, performing a "feathered" reentry to slow the ship and provide a smoother landing experience. Following the reentry sequence, the spacecraft glided back to the landing strip at Spaceport America.
This milestone is the result of years of concerted effort by a dedicated team of engineers, pilots, and support staff. Each successive mission brings the company one step closer to its ultimate goal: providing affordable and accessible space travel to anyone with the dream of gazing upon Earth from above.
Unity 25's success is also an essential stepping stone towards commercial operations, which Virgin Galactic anticipates initiating later this year. The company already boasts a list of more than 600 ticket-holders eager to experience the marvel of space firsthand, including celebrities, scientists, and space enthusiasts from all walks of life.
Virgin Galactic's landmark achievement is also a testament to the vitality of the burgeoning commercial space industry. With SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other private firms also pushing the boundaries of human spaceflight, it's clear that we're on the brink of a new era of exploration, research, and adventure.
With the successful landing of the Unity 25 test flight, Virgin Galactic stands as an impressive example of the potential that space tourism holds for the future of New Mexico. The final frontier now seems just a little less daunting, and for many, the dream of space travel is transforming into a tangible reality.