Virgin Galactic’s Spaceflight Test
On Saturday, May 22, commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic successfully completed its third-ever launch, making it the first to have taken off from New Mexico. The flight was made possible through its unique style in which it launches spaceships into space. The spacecraft attaches to an airplane-style mothership, which brings the ship high into the air. From there, the spacecraft, in this case being the VSS Unity, achieves a top speed of Mach 3 before reaching space at an altitude of 55.45 miles.
The flight crew was composed of the flight deck on the VSS Unity, CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay, and co-pilots for the mothership VMS Eve, Kelly Latimer, and Michael Masucci.
The spaceflight for Virgin Galactic also achieved several different test objectives, which included carrying the revenue-generating scientific research experiments provided by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. Additionally, the company collected vital data that will be used to help pass the final two verification reports needed to obtain an FAA commercial reusable spacecraft operator license. Finally, Virgin Galactic was able to test out its new horizontal stabilizers and flight controls that were added to the spacecraft.
The success of this test flight serves as a big step forward for the business since the last attempt in December was cut short, which pushed back progress in the process. This test spaceflight also represents the first of the final four tests for Virgin Galactic before commercial viability.
Virgin Galactic Stock Prices and Future Plans
With the opening of pre-market trading this Monday, Virgin Galactic stock prices have boomed, with shares up well over $4.50 each. This represents a 21.5% spike in company stock value as investors finally see the possibility of active business in the near future. Stock prices for the company reached an all-time high in February at over $54 per share.
If the following tests run by Virgin Galactic are successful, the company will be open for business starting in early 2022, bringing private consumers with enough cash to the edge of space. This would be the first real and consistent revenue the business would ever be taking in. Sir Richard Branson’s pet project would have a sustainable business model for long-term success without significant financial support from outside entities.
When commenting on the test launch and landing, CEO of Virgin Galactic Michael Colglazier said that the flight “showcased the inherent elegance and safety of our spaceflight system, while marking a major step forward for both Virgin Galactic and human spaceflight in New Mexico. Space travel is a bold and adventurous endeavor, and I am incredibly proud of our talented team for making the dream of private space travel a reality.”
About the Author
Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.