Virgin Galactic is gearing up for its first manned flight in nearly two years. The space tourism company has announced it will launch its Unity 25 crew into space later this month, but has not specified a specific date.
The upcoming spaceflight is “the final assessment of the entire spaceflight system and the astronauts’ experience” ahead of Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight scheduled for late June. Unity 25 marks the company’s fifth spaceflight and will launch four Virgin Galactic employees – Beth Moses, Luke Mays, Jamila Gilbert and Christopher Huie – to the edge of space.
As with Virgin Galactic’s other spaceflights, this launch will use two vehicles: the VSS Unity and the VMS Eve. While the VSS Unity is the rocket-powered spaceplane that houses Virgin Galactic’s passengers, the VMS Eve is the mothership that carries Unity into space. When the two reach about 50,000 feet in altitude, Eve drops Unity before the spaceplane makes its way into suborbital space, allowing passengers to experience a few moments of weightlessness as they gaze from far above Earth.