Virgin Galactic today (11 July) it will launch its founder – the billionaire Richard Branson– and a crew of five other members in suborbital space and you can watch the milestone fly in live online.
70-year-old Branson and the rest of his crew Unity mission 22 will depart from Spaceport America approximately 55 miles (88 kilometers) north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the vehicle VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo of the company.
The live broadcast was originally supposed to start at 9:00 EDT (13:00 GMT), however it started 90 minutes later, at 10:30 EDT (14:30 GMT), due to weather issues that delayed the SpaceShipTwo’s move VSS Unity and its VMS Eve airliner from their hangars, VG said in a statement.
To be able to watch the broadcast live, you can rely on the official page of the Virgin Galactic (below the direct video to their YouTube page) or on the Space.com homepage.
Late Show’s Stephen Colbert will host Virgin Galactic webcast, with singer Khalid performing on a new single and science popularizer Kellie Gerardi, which will be launched on a SpaceShipTwo flight next year, as well as former Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Branson and his Unity 22 crew mate, six people in all (two pilots, four passengers) will reach their vehicles about an hour before take-off, while the engines of the VMS Eve will be turned on about 30 minutes before the start of the webcast.
Approximately 50 minutes after the start of the webcast (approximately 11:20 am EDT, or 15:20 GMT), the VMS Eve should release Unity from an altitude of approximately 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), at which point this last will turn on the its rocket engine and will launch on its space flight as its carrier plane departs.
Unity will land at Spaceport America approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes after take-off, at around 11:35 am EDT (17:35 GMT), according to chronology released by Virgin Galactic.
Based on past Unity flights, today’s mission will last approximately 90 minutes in total and the “weightless” phase – when the ship reaches the top of its suborbital path – will last about four minutes.
Branson’s travel companions will include Beth MosesVirgin Galactic chief astronaut instructor; Colin Bennett, Chief Operations Engineer at Virgin Galactic; is Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and company research operations.
There VSS Unity instead it will be piloted by Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, with CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer driving VMS Eve.
Virgin Galactic’s flight today will be a milestone, but why?
If all goes to plan, Branson should be the first to accomplish a similar feat, with his space flight arriving just nine days before another company, Blue Origin, reach a similar milestone with its suborbital vehicle New Shepard.
Blue Origin plans to send its boss, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founding billionaire who recently stepped down as CEO of the e-shopping giant at the age of 57, to space on July 20, along with a small crew.
Bezos’ flight will take place on the 52nd anniversary of the first manned moon landing, that of Apollo 11, in 1969, and the same Branson he said in interviews that he was inspired to go to space as a young man after seeing the moonwalkers mission.
More recently, Branson denied that he and Bezos are competing to get to space first, while on the other side there has been a great deal of silence on the matter.
Technically speaking, whether a successful flight will actually reach space depends on the definition you use. SpaceShip – Two flights typically fly slightly below the Kármán line, the 62-mile (100-kilometer) altitude mark recognized by many people as the boundary of space.
But VSS Unity has already carried out three manned test missions over 50 miles (80 km), the dividing line recognized by NASA, the US military and the US Federal Aviation Administration.
Virgin Galactic has been trying to bring tourists into space since its founding in 2004, while Blue Origin has been trying to do the same since its founding four years earlier.
The SpaceShipOne vehicle, on which Virgin Galactic based the design of the SpaceShipTwo, flew 62.5 miles (100 km) above the Earth’s surface twice in 2004 to win the $ 10 million Ansari X Prize for repeated flights in a privately developed reusable spacecraft.
Unity 22 will be Virgin Galactic’s fourth manned space flight, while Bezos will be aboard the first manned space flight for Blue Origin (though New Shepard has passed more than a dozen unmanned suborbital test flights). The most recently stated price for a Virgin Galactic seat was $ 250,000, and more than 700 people paid a deposit, company representatives said.
Blue Origin has yet to release its price per seat, though a hitherto anonymous auction winner paid $ 28 million to fly into space on July 20 with Bezos, his brother Mark, and Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk.
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