Virgin Galactic to launch commercial flight service today

The flight, named Galactic 01, carrying four passengers and two pilots will lift off from the Spaceport America in New Mexico after 11 a.m. EDT (8.30 p.m. IST) on Thursday. Galactic 01 will also carry 13 experiments for collecting medical and cosmic radiation data and studying fluid dynamics. "Virgin Galactic's research missions will usher in a new era of repeatable and reliable access to space for government and research institutions for years to come," said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier in a statement.

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is aiming to launch its first-ever commercial spaceflight service on Thursday, the company has announced.

The flight, named Galactic 01, carrying four passengers and two pilots will lift off from the Spaceport America in New Mexico after 11 a.m. EDT (8.30 p.m. IST) on Thursday.

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Galactic 01 will also carry 13 experiments for collecting medical and cosmic radiation data and studying fluid dynamics.

"Virgin Galactic's research missions will usher in a new era of repeatable and reliable access to space for government and research institutions for years to come," said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier in a statement.

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The company's first commercial mission crew include Virgin Galactic's astronaut Colin Bennett and Col. Walter Villadei and Lt. Col. Angelo Landolfi from the Italian Air Force and Pantaleone Carlucci, the nation's National Research Council engineer who will collect data for a number of scientific investigations during their flight.

The two VSS Unity pilots are Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile,

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"With scientific payloads on board, the spaceflight will showcase the value and power of the unique suborbital science lab that Virgin Galactic offers," said the company in a previous statement.

Virgin Galactic's suborbital spaceflight system consists of two elements: a carrier plane known as VMS Eve and a six-passenger, two-pilot SpaceShipTwo space plane called VSS Unity.

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After reaching around 50,000 feet of altitude, Eve drops Unity before the spaceplane blasts its way to suborbital space, allowing passengers to experience a few moments of weightlessness.

Late last month, Virgin Galactic had successfully completed its final test flight to suborbital space -- the company's first flight in nearly two years.

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The last Virgin Galactic spaceflight took place in July 2021 and had Virgin CEO Richard Branson, along with three other employees, on board.

About 800 tickets have been sold over the past decade, with the initial batch going for $200,000 each.

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Tickets now cost $450,000 per person.

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