Sunday, July 25, 2021
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HomeWorldVirgin Galactic Announces First Fully Crewed Spaceflight

Virgin Galactic Announces First Fully Crewed Spaceflight

LAS CRUCES, N.M.- Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:
SPCE) (the “Company” or “Virgin Galactic”), a
vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company,
today announced that the flight window for the next
rocket-powered test flight of its SpaceShipTwo Unity opens
July 11, pending weather and technical checks.

“Unity 22” mission will be the twenty-second flight test
for VSS Unity and the Company’s fourth crewed spaceflight.
It will also be the first to carry a full crew of two pilots
and four mission specialists in the cabin, including the
Company’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, who will be
testing the private astronaut experience.

Building on
the success of the Company’s most recent spaceflight in
May, Unity 22 will focus on cabin and customer experience
objectives, including:

  • Evaluating the commercial
    customer cabin with a full crew, including the cabin
    environment, seat comfort, the weightless experience, and
    the views of Earth that the spaceship delivers — all to
    ensure every moment of the astronaut’s journey maximizes
    the wonder and awe created by space
  • Demonstrating the conditions for conducting
    human-tended research experiments
  • Confirming the
    training program at Spaceport America supports the
    spaceflight experience

For the first time,
Virgin Galactic will share a global livestream of the
spaceflight. Audiences around the world are invited to
participate virtually in the Unity 22 test flight and see
first-hand the extraordinary experience Virgin Galactic is
creating for future astronauts. The livestream will be
available to watch on Virgin
and will be simulcast on the Virgin
Galactic Twitter,
and Facebook
channels. It is expected to begin at 7:00 am MDT / 9:00 am
EDT on the day of the flight.

The flight’s four
mission specialists will be:

  • Beth Moses, Chief
    Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic. Moses will serve as
    cabin lead and test director in space, overseeing the safe
    and efficient execution of the test flight
  • Colin Bennett, Lead Operations Engineer
    at Virgin Galactic. Bennett will evaluate cabin equipment,
    procedures, and experience during both the boost phase and
    in the weightless environment.
  • Sirisha Bandla, Vice
    President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at
    Virgin Galactic. Bandla will be evaluating the human-tended
    research experience, using an experiment from the University
    of Florida that requires several handheld fixation tubes
    that will be activated at various points in the flight
  • Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin
    Galactic. Branson will evaluate the private astronaut
    experience and will undergo the same training, preparation
    and flight as Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts. The
    Company will use his observations from his flight training
    and spaceflight experience to enhance the journey for all
    future astronaut customers.

The pilots for this
mission are Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci flying VSS
Unity, and CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer flying VMS

Following this flight, and in line with normal
procedures, the team will complete inspections of the
vehicles and an extensive data review, which will inform the
next steps in the test flight program. Two additional test
flights are planned before the Company expects to commence
commercial service in 2022.

Michael Colglazier, Chief
Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said: “Our next
flight—the 22nd flight test for VSS Unity and our first
fully crewed flight test—is a testament to the dedication
and technical brilliance of our entire team, and I’d like
to extend a special thank you to our pilots and mission
specialists, each of whom will be performing important work.
Tapping into Sir Richard’s expertise and long history of
creating amazing customer experiences will be invaluable as
we work to open the wonder of space travel and create
awe-inspiring journeys for our customers.”

Richard Branson said: “I truly believe that space belongs
to all of us. After more than 16 years of research,
engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the
vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to
open space to humankind and change the world for good.
It’s one thing to have a dream of making space more
accessible to all; it’s another for an incredible team to
collectively turn that dream into reality. As part of a
remarkable crew of mission specialists, I’m honoured to
help validate the journey our future astronauts will
undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer
experience people expect from

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