SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity flies in New Mexico airspace in October 2020. Source: CNN
While Jeff Bezos of Amazon plans to go to space on July 20, Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity has taken off with Richard Branson on board for a one-hour round trip to and fro space.
CNN reports that unlike traditional space travel where astronauts circle the earth and float in space for days, Virgin Galactic’s flights are brief, up-and-down trips.
But the spacecraft will go more than 50 miles above earth, which the US government considers to mark the boundary of outer space.
From the time the ship leaves the ground to the time the spacecraft lands back down on it, Richard Branson’s trip aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity should only take roughly an hour.
Two vehicles fly conjoined up to about 50,000 feet altitude, at which point the spacecraft, with its four occupants inside, drops from its mothership.
SpaceShipTwo’s single rocket motor will fire up as soon as the spacecraft detaches in order to blast the vehicle up to nearly 300,000 feet in just one minute.
If all goes according to plan, of course.
Though Virgin Galactic has successfully sent a crew to the edge of outer space three times, it was forced to abort a test as recently as December of 2020, when the rocket failed to ignite.