Watch Virgin Galactic’s 1st commercial spaceflight launch live online in this livestream today (Image Credit: Space.com)
Update for 12:20 p.m. ET, June 29: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space plane, VSS Unity has successfully landed, completing the company’s first commercial spaceflight. See more images, video and read our full wrap story.
Virgin Galactic will livestream its first commercial spaceflight for free, and you can watch it online.
The company, which is part of billionaire Richard Branson‘s Virgin Group, will send its first commercial mission to suborbital space on June 29. Events will begin at 11 a.m. EDT (1600 GMT, or 9 a.m. local time in New Mexico) on Virgin Galactic’s website, which we will stream here on Space.com if possible.
Virgin Galactic plans to send six people into space (four crew and two pilots), with two people also in the carrier aircraft that will send the space plane aloft. The mission will launch from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the location of Virgin Galactic’s commercial hub.
Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight system includes four pilots across two vehicles: Two pilots aboard the carrier plane VMS Eve, and two pilots aboard the SpaceShipTwo space plane VSS Unity that flies into orbit.
The co-pilots of Eve this time around are commander Kelly Latimer and pilot Jameel Janjua, while the co-pilots of Unity are commander Mike Masucci and pilot Nicola Pecile.
Four passengers will fly on board Unity as well:
- Pantaleone Carlucci, an engineer at the National Research Council of Italy;
- Colin Bennett, an astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic;
- Col. Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force, who is training for a “future orbital space mission” to the International Space Station, according to Virgin Galactic materials;
- Lt. Col. Angelo Landolfi, a physician with the Italian Air Force.
Virgin Galactic calls this mission Galactic 01, which supports a joint Italian Air Force and National Research Council (of Italy) research study called “Virtute 1.” It will last about 90 minutes and include 13 experiments, mostly for medical applications.
Based on past flights, Eve will take off from the runway with Unity attached underneath. The two vehicles will separate at 50,000 feet (15,000 meters) and Unity will fly on its own to suborbital space using a rocket motor. Everyone aboard Unity will experience weightlessness for a few minutes and see Earth’s curve against space.
Unity can hold at most six passengers at a time, and made its most recent flight on May 25 after nearly two years of fleet upgrades for maintenance and upgrade work. Virgin aims to fly commercial flights monthly, with the next one expected in early August.
If you want to join a flight, you’ll need deep pockets as a ticket aboard VSS Unity costs $450,000. Virgin Galactic plans to launch a new “Delta-class” space plane capable of flying to space once a week in 2026 to boost service.
Blue Origin, which has not released per-seat pricing, is also bringing tourists to space and is led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle hasn’t flown since September 2022, however, when it suffered an anomaly while flying an uncrewed research effort.