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Virgin Galactic is targeting May 25th for its first spaceflight since Branson

Virgo galaxy It is targeting as early as May 25 the launch of its next space flight, which marks its first flight in nearly two years since aviation founder Sir Richard Branson and the last planned step before commercial service begins.

Called Expedition 25, it marks the company’s fifth spaceflight to date, as it lifts off from Spaceport America in New Mexico. It’s the “Final Evaluation” flight, with six Virgin Galactic employees aboard on a jaunt to the edge of space.

The update comes after a longer-than-expected refurbishment of the company’s spacecraft: Two months after Branson’s flight, and following an FAA investigation into a mishap during his flight, the company paused operations for what was supposed to be “eight to” 10 months”—but ended up taking what Almost 16 months instead.

Shares of Virgin Galactic rose nearly 7% on Wednesday, closing at $4.50 per share. The company reported first-quarter results earlier this month that revealed mounting losses as it funds the development and expansion of its spacecraft fleet.

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In-house pilots Mike Masucci and CJ Sturko will fly the VSS Unity spacecraft, while Jamil Janjua and Nicola Bissell will fly the aircraft carrier VMS Eve. In the cabin will be Senior Astronaut Beth Moses, as well as Astronaut Instructor Luke Mace, Senior Director of Engineering Christopher Hoy, and Director of Internal Communications Jamila Gilbert.

Virgin Galactic’s approach to space tourism is to fly up to about 40,000 feet, launch the spacecraft and fire its engine to go above 80 kilometers (or about 262,000 feet) — an altitude that the US recognizes as the frontier of space.

Known as suborbital, this type of spaceflight takes passengers a few minutes of weightlessness, unlike the longer, more difficult and more expensive orbital flights conducted by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. After flying his own craft in 2021, Branson told CNBC he hopes to fly with SpaceX.

Based on the results and data gathered from Unit 25, the company aims to launch its first commercial mission in “late June.”



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