Virgin Galactic completes first private astronaut spaceflight

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic
Headshot of Greg Rose
by Greg Rose
10 August 2023

Virgin Galactic has completed its first private astronaut flight, ‘Galactic 02’. The mission achieved multiple historic milestones, showcasing how Virgin Galactic spaceflights are broadening access to space for a diverse, global community of astronauts.

Galactic 02 spaceflight rocket
Virgin Galactic

By flying private astronauts Jon Goodwin from the United Kingdom, and Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers from Antigua and Barbuda, ‘Galactic 02’ achieved the following:

  • First female astronauts from the Caribbean 

  • First mother-daughter duo to go to space

  • Most women flown in a single space mission

  • Youngest person to go to space

  • First Olympian to go to space

  • First majority female spaceflight

  • The sixth and seventh Black women to go to space

  • Second person with Parkinson’s to go to space

  • Third oldest person to go to space

‘Galactic 02’s take-off time was 8:30am MDT, altitude at release was 44,300 feet, apogee was 55 miles, top speed was Mach 3 and landing time was 9:30am MDT.

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said: “Today Virgin Galactic took another historic leap forward by flying our first private astronaut mission and demonstrating how our spaceflights will broaden access to space. Jon, Keisha and Ana each embody our fundamental belief that space is for everyone, and we are proud that today’s flight has inspired people and communities around the world. This is just the beginning, as we plan to continue flying monthly spaceflights while also developing our Delta Class production spaceships to scale our business.”

CJ Sturckow, VSS Unity Commander, said: It is a surreal and humbling experience to have flown Unity today. The wonder and excitement of spaceflight never loses its magic. I had the honor of being joined in the cockpit by Kelly Latimer, one of the first female commercial spaceship pilots. I’m proud of the work we’re doing here at Virgin Galactic to fly more people to space.”

Virgin Galactic's Galactic 02 spaceflight
Virgin Galactic

Kelly Latimer, VSS Unity Pilot, said: “In my entire career, from the Air Force Academy to being a test pilot for NASA, nothing tops what I have just experienced at the controls of VSS Unity. Going to space today fulfilled an ambition I’ve had since I was a child. It is a privilege to be part of a majority-women crew making history as the most female astronauts flying to space in a single mission.”

The company will now proceed with post-flight inspections and analysis in preparation for the next commercial space mission, ‘Galactic 03,’ which is planned for September in a continuation of Virgin Galactic’s monthly flight cadence.

Head over to Virgin Galactic for more reaction from ‘Galactic 02’.