News 27 June 2023

First commercial Virgin Galactic space flight to launch this week

27 June 2023

Virgin Galactic has set the date for its first fully commercial flight of the SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane, scheduled to take off on June 29 from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The mission, named “Galactic 01,” will carry three Italian payload specialists who will conduct more than a dozen experiments.

The Italian Air Force and the National Research Council selected Virgin Galactic for their inaugural space research mission.

The flight, called Virtute 1, will be commanded by Walter Villadei, an Italian Air Force colonel, and will involve experiments measuring cosmic radiation, microgravity effects and medical data collection.

The overall mission will be overseen by Virgin Galactic’s Mike Masucci, with Nicola Pecile serving as the pilot.

Virgin Galactic plans to leverage its research capabilities as an alternative market to space tourism. The company’s primary revenue stream, however, will come from private astronauts, with the first private astronaut flight, Galactic 02, tentatively scheduled for early August.

To support the development of future spaceplanes, including the Delta class, Virgin Galactic has completed a $300 million stock sale and plans to sell an additional $400 million.

However, the stock price experienced an 18.4% drop on June 23, erasing recent gains since the commercial spaceflight announcement.

[Image via Shutterstock]