Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 spaceplane with a crew of six took off today from America’s private spaceport in New Mexico. Among them was the owner of this company, 70-year-old billionaire Richard Branson. After spending a little over an hour at altitude, Unity returned safely to Earth.
The launch of the carrier aircraft Eve, which was supposed to deliver Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 spaceplane, was delayed by an hour and a half due to weather conditions in the area of the American spaceport in New Mexico. At 10:42 local time, the start took place.
The carrier aircraft delivered the spaceplane to an altitude of about 15 km above the Earth. Unity 22 then undocked and continued flying on its own.
With the help of a jet engine, he climbed to an altitude of more than 80 km.
On board the spaceplane, along with two pilots and Richard Branson, were engineer Colin Bennett, chief instructor Beth Moses and Virgin Galactic vice president Sirisha Bundla.
At the highest point of the trajectory, passengers and crew felt a state of weightlessness. Passengers took advantage of this and, having unfastened their seat belts, flew around the cabin for several minutes, admiring the views of the Earth through the windows.
Soon after, the spaceplane began a gradual descent. A little over an hour after the launch, Unity 22 landed at the cosmodrome.
In honor of the successful completion of the suborbital test flight, a large-scale celebration took place. About 500 guests are invited to the event. Among them were businessman Elon Musk and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham.
Richard Branson has fulfilled his recent promise to fly in a spacecraft ahead of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Mr Bezos is scheduled to fly with Blue Origin’s New Shepard on July 20.
Meanwhile, Blue Origin two days earlier stressedthat only the flight of their ship can be called a space flight, since it will rise to an altitude of 100 km.
“96% of humanity believe that space begins from this height,” – says the company’s Twitter. Nevertheless, today Mr. Bezos in his account wished Mr. Branson “and his entire team a successful and safe flight. Good luck! “