Virgin Galactic launches 2nd manned commercial space flight

Virgin Galactic launches 2nd manned commercial space flight

The VSS Unity

The recent boom in the commercial space industry seems to have recaptured America’s interest in space travel again. Between Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin space program and Elon Musk’s SpaceX our fascination with leaving the planet has become rejuvenated. However, some people may not be aware of another commercial space program that some people may not be aware of and that’s Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. While Blue Origin and SpaceX are focused on developing rockets and space capsules that can be deployed and reused in order to drastically reduce the cost of space flight, Virgin Galactic is more focused on space tourism. That’s not to say that space tourism is nothing but folly.

This past Friday, Virgin Galactic launched its second manned space flight aboard the VSS Unity. Virgin Galactic launched its first manned space flight back in July of 2018. The Unity was released from a cargo plane in flight before propelling into space under its own power. The crew consisted of chief pilot Dave Mackay, copilot Michael “Sooch” Masucci, and Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses who became the first commercial space flight passenger. Moses’ mission was to inspect the cabin interior along with evaluating the safety of weightlessness for future passengers. There were also a number of NASA related projects aboard the flight making the Unity’s voyage a profitable one.

While it does take a certain amount of ego to try to enter the new space race, Virgin Galactic seems to be less about publicity and more about innovation. While Sir Richard does want to be a space passenger by the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this July he seems to have largely eschewed the attention of mainstream media. Which is refreshing from those who would launch a car into space for no other reasons besides publicity and stroking their own ego.