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Virgin Galactic completes first manned mission to space


Virgin Galactic achieved a significant milestone as it successfully conducted its first commercial suborbital flight, named Galactic 01. With a crew comprising two Italian air force officers, an aerospace engineer, a Virgin Galactic instructor, and two pilots, the VSS Unity spaceplane soared approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) above the New Mexico desert. After a 75-minute journey, the spaceplane safely glided back to Earth, landing at Spaceport America.

Flight Procedure

Virgin Galactic utilizes a unique approach, employing a “mothership” aircraft with two pilots that takes off from a runway and climbs to high altitude. Once at the desired position, the rocket-powered VSS Unity is released, propelling the spacecraft into space at speeds nearly three times the speed of sound (Mach 3). Following its suborbital trajectory, the VSS Unity then glides back to Earth for a controlled landing.

Scientific Endeavors

Beyond its commercial significance, the Galactic 01 flight encompassed scientific objectives. The crew members planned to collect valuable biometric data, evaluate cognitive performance, and study how certain liquids and solids behave in microgravity. These experiments contribute to our understanding of human physiology and offer insights into various scientific disciplines.


This was the fourth spaceflight by Virgin Galactic and the first test flight to include a full crew in the cabin, including the company’s visionary founder himself. With the entire world watching through the first global livestream of the spaceflight experience, Virgin Galactic provided a tantalizing glimpse into the future of space tourism and what their future astronauts can expect once the company launches its commercial flight service.

Important takeaways for competitive examinations

  • Virgin Galactic is an American spaceflight company founded by Richard Branson in 2004.
  • The US space agency, NASA, and the US air force define an astronaut as anyone who has flown at least 80km (50 miles) above Earth.
  • ISRO’s Gaganyaan mission is India’s maiden manned space mission.