‘Virgin Galactic To Halt Commercial Flights’

Virgin Galactic successfully completed its seventh commercial launch from Spaceport America on Saturday, June 8, 2024. This marked the final flight of the Unity ship from New Mexico. The spacecraft carried four passengers, including Turkish researcher Tuva Atasever, SpaceX propulsion engineer Andy Sadhwani, former real estate developer Irving Izchak Pergament, and London hotel and resort investment strategist Giorgio Manenti. Additionally, two experiments from Purdue University and University of California Berkeley were also onboard.

The flight reached an impressive apogee of 54.4 miles, just above the Earth’s atmosphere and into the realm of space. Despite falling below NASA’s designated boundary for space, known as the Kármán Line, which is located approximately 62 miles above the planet, the journey was a significant milestone.

Following the send-off witnessed by hundreds of spectators, Virgin Galactic announced that this would be the last commercial flight for at least two years. This decision came after the company’s restructuring, which included laying off 185 employees, as part of a strategy to focus on developing space planes with larger capacities.

Founder Richard Branson, alongside CEO Michael Colglazier, expressed enthusiasm for the company’s future plans, which involve the production of the new Delta-class spaceship. This model aims to increase the frequency of flights and ultimately reduce the cost of space travel for more individuals.

The launch event, which took place outside of Truth or Consequences, saw Branson and Colglazier emphasizing the importance of innovation and accessibility in the space tourism industry. The company’s new facility in Mesa, Arizona, is expected to be operational by 2024, further advancing their spaceflight capabilities.

As Virgin Galactic looks towards the future, the completion of this final commercial flight signifies a new chapter in the company’s journey. With ambitious plans to revolutionize space travel, Virgin Galactic remains a pioneering force in the commercial spaceflight sector.