WASHINGTON — Virgin Galactic announced June 15 that it plans to conduct the first commercial flight of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle in late June on a mission for the Italian Air Force.
Virgin said its “Galactic 01” mission will take place between June 27 and June 30 from Spaceport America in New Mexico. That will carry three people from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy under a contract Virgin Galactic signed with the Italian Air Force in 2019. The three will conduct microgravity research on the flight.
That will be followed by Galactic 02 in early August. It will be the first to carry individuals who signed up for space tourism flights with the company, paying up to $450,000 per seat. Virgin Galactic says it will conduct SpaceShipTwo flights on a monthly basis thereafter.
The upcoming commercial flights come after the company performed the Unity 25 test flight May 25, the first powered flight of the vehicle in nearly two years. Two pilots and four company mission specialists were on the vehicle, named VSS Unity, going to a peak altitude of 87.2 kilometers before landing back at Spaceport America.
The company said before the Unity 25 flight it was targeting late June for Galactic 01 assuming the test flight went as expected. The company did not release details about the performance of SpaceShipTwo on Unity 25, but noted in a statement that they approved plans for Galactic 01 after “routine analysis and vehicle inspections.”
Virgin Galactic did not disclose who would fly VSS Unity or its mothership aircraft, VMS Eve, on either Galactic 01 or Galactic 02, nor who were the Italian researchers or private astronauts assigned to those flights. The company said that crew assignments would be announced in advance of each mission but was not more specific.
The Unity 25 flight was not broadcast live by the company, which instead provided a handful of social media updates. The company said in an updated statement that the Galactic 01 and Galactic 02 flights will be webcast.