Virgin Galactic completes Unity 25 space flight
Virgin Galactic has completed the Unity 25 mission to space, with Mission Specialists Jamila Gilbert, Christopher Huie, and Luke Mays becoming the newest Virgin Galactic Astronauts.
The spaceflight marked Unity's 25th mission, taking off from Spaceport America in New Mexico at 09:15 AM. The altitude at release was 44,500 ft, the apogee was 54.2 miles, the top speed was Mach 2.94 and the landing time was 10:37 AM.
Completed mission objectives were a final assessment of VMS Eve and VSS Unity ahead of commercial spaceline operations, and the evaluation of the end-to-end astronaut training and spaceflight experience.
The Unity 25 crew consisted of Astronaut 002 Beth Moses, Astronaut 005 Luke Mays, Astronaut 006 Christopher Huie and Astronaut 007 Jamila Gilbert. VSS Unity was piloted by Commander Mike Masucci and Pilot CJ Sturckow, with mothership VMS Eve piloted by Commander Jameel Janjua and Pilot Nicola Pecile.
“The Unity 25 mission was a fantastic achievement for everyone at Virgin Galactic,” said Michael Colglazier, Virgin Galactic CEO. “Witnessing our inspiring crew’s pure joy upon landing, I have complete confidence in the unique astronaut experience we have built for our customers. Our teams now begin post-flight analysis as well as preparation for Galactic 01, our commercial research mission, planned for late June.
“New Mexico, you are even more enchanting from space,” said Mission Specialist Jamila Gilbert. “I flew to space just one hour from the street I grew up on. It is hard to put into words what this experience was like, but I’m sure I’ll spend the rest of my life trying. I’m not only honoured to be one of the first 100 women and one of 16 Hispanic and Latinx people to go to space, I’m also incredibly proud to represent the community from where this new space age is blossoming. As one of the very few non-technical people to fly to space, my role in this mission marks a sea change in who can go to space, and is a promising sign of the opportunities Virgin Galactic and the commercial space sector are ushering in.”
“Looking down at our beautiful planet from space, something that so few humans have experienced, was such a humbling, awe-inspiring, and reverent experience,” said Christopher Huie, Senior Manager, Flight Science at Virgin Galactic. “As one of the first 20 Black people who have gone to space, I hope that I can inspire the next generation of astronauts who look like me to set their goals high and break down the mental and institutional barriers that have held people of color back. This is just the beginning, and I look forward to continuing to push boundaries with Virgin Galactic and shine a spotlight on the doors that commercial space travel can open for innovation.”
Virgin Galactic will now conduct post-flight inspections and analysis in preparation for commercial spaceline operations, beginning with Galactic 01, a dedicated research mission planned for late June.
Head over to Virgin Galactic’s new website and follow on social for all the latest footage from Unity 25 and for news on Galactic 01.