- Virgin Galactic launches its second commercial spaceflight, Galactic 02, carrying private-paying tourists including a British former Olympian.
- The unique air launch system offers passengers a brief moment of weightlessness, distinguishing itself from longer, more expensive private orbital flights.
- With plans for monthly and eventually weekly flights, and 800 passengers waiting, Virgin Galactic is accelerating the future of commercial space travel.
Virgin Galactic successfully embarked on its second commercial space adventure on Thursday, marking the first time private-paying tourists were on board. This voyage, labeled Galactic 02, lifted off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, captained by CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer and hosting four other passengers, including the company's chief astronaut instructor, Beth Moses.
Three fortunate customers, British ex-Olympian Jon Goodwin and two Caribbean residents, Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers, were part of the excursion. The trio managed to snag seats through a charity fundraising event orchestrated by the nonprofit organization, Space for Humanity. The spacecraft soared past 80 kilometers (roughly 262,000 feet) and then made a triumphant return to land.
Unlike the more taxing and costly private orbital flights, Virgin Galactic's air launch system provides passengers with a fleeting but exhilarating sensation of weightlessness. The company's second-quarter conference call acknowledged concerns over extreme tourism experiences but dismissed any negative impacts on the brand.
Virgin Galactic is riding on a wave of ambition, with the seventh spaceflight under its belt and the third since May. Plans are in motion to launch the VSS Unity monthly, and an advanced fleet, the Delta-class, is set to debut in 2026 for weekly flights.
With a backlog of approximately 800 passengers and tickets starting at a whopping $450,000 per seat, the company is not only making headlines but forging a path towards an incredible future of commercial space travel.
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