Virgin Galactic announces crew for return to space

Virgin Galactic's Unity 25 crew
Virgin Galactic
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by Greg Rose
8 May 2023

Virgin Galactic has announced the crew for its return to space in late May. The Mission Specialists on board Unity 25 will validate the astronaut experience ahead of Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight, Galactic 01, which is planned for late June.

Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses, Mission Specialists Christopher Huie and Jamila Gilbert, and Astronaut Instructor Luke Mays will make up the crew for Unity 25 from Spaceport America in New Mexico. VSS Unity will be piloted by Commander Mike Masucci and Pilot CJ Sturckow. VMS Eve will be piloted by Commander Jameel Janjua and Pilot Nicola Pecile.

Virgin Galactic glide flight 2023
Virgin Galactic

The mission objective is a final assessment of the full spaceflight system and astronaut experience before commercial service opens in late June. This will be the 25th flight of VSS Unity and the fifth spaceflight.

“Returning to space is what we have all worked towards,” said Mike Moses, President of Spaceline Missions and Safety. “Our mission specialists were selected for their diverse expertise, and they couldn’t be better suited to validate the astronaut training program and overall experience. After this flight we will begin flying our customers to space.”

Mission Specialist Jamila Gilbert hails from New Mexico and will be flying to space from Spaceport America, just one hour from her hometown. As a Latina woman with Purépechan-Mexican roots, Jamila will join the first 100 women to reach space.

Virgin Galactic's Jamila Gilbert
Virgin Galactic

Mission Specialist Christopher Huie joined Virgin Galactic in 2017 as a Flight Sciences Engineer, and is co-founder of Virgin Galactic’s Black Leaders in Aerospace Scholarship and Training (BLAST) Program. The son of Jamaican immigrants, hailing from Florida, Chris will become the 19th Black astronaut in the world.

Virgin Galactic's Chris Huie
Virgin Galactic

Astronaut Instructor Luke Mays is the newest member of the Virgin Galactic crew, having arrived from NASA this year after 25 years in aerospace. Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses will fly to space for the third time with Virgin Galactic on Unity 25. She was the first woman to fly to space aboard a commercial space vehicle in 2019, earning her FAA commercial astronaut wings.

Head over to Virgin Galactic for more on Unity 25 and all the latest from the team.