TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (KRQE) – The long-awaited flight to bring paying tourists all the way from the New Mexico desert to near space has finally become a reality. Thursday, August 10, Virgin Galactic announced the successful flight.
“In my entire career, from the Air Force Academy to being a test pilot for NASA, nothing tops what I have just experienced at the controls of VSS Unity. Going to space today fulfilled an ambition I’ve had since I was a child,” pilot Kelly Latimer said in a press release. “It is a privilege to be part of a majority-women crew making history as the most female astronauts flying to space in a single mission.”
The flight took off from Spaceport America, in Truth or Consequences before ultimately reaching a height of 55 miles above the Earth known as the thermosphere or upper atmosphere. Three tourists were onboard the flight that reached a max speed of Mach 3.0 the company says.
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Image showing relative heights of flights | KRQE News 13
Jon Goodwin, an 80-year-old Olympian was on board, along with 46-year-old Keisha Schahaff and her daughter Anastasia Mayers. Although none of the tourists were New Mexicans, and the tickets cost a reported $450,000, Virgin Galactic says the flight moves towards a future where space is more accessible.
“Today Virgin Galactic took another historic leap forward by flying our first private astronaut mission and demonstrating how our spaceflights will broaden access to space,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a press release. “Jon, Keisha and Ana each embody our fundamental belief that space is for everyone, and we are proud that today’s flight has inspired people and communities around the world. This is just the beginning, as we plan to continue flying monthly spaceflights while also developing our Delta Class production spaceships to scale our business.”
After Virgin Galactic inspects the VSS Unity spacecraft as part of the post-flight process, Virgin Galactic says they’ll start gearing up for the next flight, scheduled for September.