Richard Branson Welcomes Astronauts Home from Virgin Galactic’s Historic First Spaceflight

Date 14.12.2018

History has been made and a long-anticipated dream realised in Mojave, CA, today as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, landed from her maiden spaceflight to cheers from Richard Branson and the teams from Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company.

Not only is this the first human spaceflight to be launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011, but the very first time that a crewed vehicle built for commercial, passenger service, has reached space.

The historic achievement has been recognised by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who announced today that early next year they will present pilots Mark “Forger” Stucky and Frederick “CJ” Sturckow with FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings at a ceremony in Washington DC.  CJ, as a four-time Space Shuttle pilot, will become the only person to have been awarded NASA and FAA wings.

Today’s accomplishment has also been recognised by the NASA Flight Opportunities Program, which flew four space science and technology experiments on VSS Unity, making this Virgin Galactic’s first revenue generating flight.

The spectacular spaceflight, which was witnessed by a large crowd of staff and their families, as well as special guests and media, saw a 60 second planned rocket motor burn which propelled VSS Unity to almost three times the speed of sound and to an apogee of 51.4 miles.

As VSS Unity coasted upwards through the black sky and into space, Virgin Galactic Mission Control confirmed the news and congratulated the two astronaut pilots: “ Unity, Welcome to Space”.

After a Mach 2.5 supersonic re-entry into the atmosphere, which utilised Unity’s unique “feathering” configuration, Forger and CJ guided the spaceship down to a smooth runway landing and an emotional homecoming welcome.

Commenting from the flight line Richard Branson said: “Many of you will know how important the dream of space travel is to me personally. Ever since I watched the moon landings as a child I have looked up to the skies with wonder. We started Virgin nearly 50 years ago dreaming big and loving a challenge. Today, as I stood among a truly remarkable group of people with our eyes on the stars, we saw our biggest dream and our toughest challenge to date fulfilled. It was an indescribable feeling: joy, relief, exhilaration and anticipation for what is yet to come.

“Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space. Today we completed our first revenue generating flight and our pilots earned their Commercial Astronaut Wings. Today, we have shown that Virgin Galactic really can open space to change the world for good. We will now push on with the remaining portion of our flight test program, which will see the rocket motor burn for longer and VSS Unity fly still faster and higher towards giving thousands of private astronauts an experience which provides a new, planetary perspective to our relationship with the Earth and the cosmos. This is a momentous day and I could not be more proud of our teams who together have opened a new chapter of space exploration.”

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company, said: “What we witnessed today is more compelling evidence that commercial space is set to become one of the twenty-first century’s defining industries. Reusable vehicles built and operated by private companies are about to transform our business and personal lives in ways which are as yet hard to imagine. New enterprises are being created which will become hugely valuable, while enabling humanity to better manage some of its greatest future challenges. Today was a remarkable achievement brought about by the skill, dedication and support of our shareholders, staff, customers, partners and many other stakeholders. We extend our congratulations and thanks to each and every one of them.”

Stay up to date

with the latest news from Aerospace!

Your email address will only ever be used for Newsletters campaings with the legal agreement of your Privacy Policy. You can change your email preferences or unsubscribe in every email if you no longer wish to receive emails from us.


TOP Interviews

Flying is a passion for me

Flying is a passion for me

Date 1.10.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

An Interview with Damian Hirschier,  a certified test pilot that holds an Airline Transport Pilot License with a Category 1 Flight Test Rating. He flew more than 130 different aircraft types ranging from gliders up to airliners including 15 first flights of prototypes. By Katerina S. Urbanova You have performed a flight in an electrical […]

OUR SECURITY CANNOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED

OUR SECURITY CANNOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED

Date 9.9.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

An interview with Mirek Topolanek, Former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and co-founder of NATO Days   NATO Days are the biggest security show in Europe. Who first came up with the idea of organising this event? NATO Days in Ostrava and Czech Air Force Days are one of the biggest and most important […]

WE SEE AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXTEND OUR ACTIVITIES IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

WE SEE AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXTEND OUR ACTIVITIES IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Date 17.7.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

Zodiac Aerospace, the company producing systems and equipment for aircraft, was merged with Safran group in February 2018 and divided into three companies. One of them, Safran Cabin, employs over 13,000 people today and has cooperated with Airbus on developing modern lower-deck modules. “We see a lot of opportunities coming from the merger, and mainly […]

I STILL LOVE FLYING!

I STILL LOVE FLYING!

Date 3.7.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

„My personal record shows that I have flown nearly 3000 displays in 39 countries as a team leader, which I believe is an absolute record. But I hope to add several hundreds more in the next seasons," says Jacques Bothelin, chief pilot and owner of Breitling Jet Team

Show more

Stay up to date

with the latest news from Aerospace!

Your email address will only ever be used for Newsletters campaings with the legal agreement of your Privacy Policy. You can change your email preferences or unsubscribe in every email if you no longer wish to receive emails from us.

More news

Airbus’ BelugaXL receives crucial stamp of approval

Airbus’ BelugaXL receives crucial stamp of approval

Date 15.11.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

The BelugaXL has received its Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), paving the way for entry-into-service by early 2020. The aircraft is an integral part of Airbus’ industrial system and a key enabler for production ramp-up requirements beyond 2019. The BelugaXL allows for 30% extra transport capacity being seven metres longer and […]

MOONEY, ONE OF THE MOST TRADITIONAL US COMPANIES, SHUTS DOWN

MOONEY, ONE OF THE MOST TRADITIONAL US COMPANIES, SHUTS DOWN

Date 13.11.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

The US press reports that Mooney Aircraft, based in Kerrville, Texas, founded 1929, has shut down after having dismissed all of its employees. This is not a surprise if we take into account the number of aeroplanes sold in recent years, with 7 planes sold in 2016 and 2017, and 14 in 2018 and just […]

STUDY: Safer skies but claims and risks grow

STUDY: Safer skies but claims and risks grow

Date 12.11.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

The global airline industry has experienced some of its safest years ever in terms of fatal accidents recently, despite a number of crashes. However, the long-term improvement in its risk management record is challenged by a growing number of insurance claims and risks.

Rolls-Royce announces new hybrid-electric flight demonstrator to be built with Brandenburg Partners

Rolls-Royce announces new hybrid-electric flight demonstrator to be built with Brandenburg Partners

Date 11.11.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

Rolls-Royce has taken a significant step towards realising the ambition to provide hybrid-electric propulsion systems for the next generation of aviation, following the announcement of its initiative to strengthen research and development activities in this field in the State of Brandenburg. Rolls-Royce will be working with APUS, an aviation engineering company based in Strausberg, close […]

Landmark order for Airbus: IndiGo signs for 300 A320neo Family aircraft

Landmark order for Airbus: IndiGo signs for 300 A320neo Family aircraft

Date 30.10.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

India’s IndiGo has placed a firm order for 300 A320neo Family aircraft. This marks one of Airbus’ largest aircraft orders ever with a single airline operator. This latest IndiGo order comprises a mix of A320neo, A321neo and A321XLR aircraft. This will take IndiGo’s total number of A320neo Family aircraft orders to 730. “This order is […]

Pentagon And Lockheed Martin Reach Agreement Reducing F-35A Cost By 12.8 Percent

Pentagon And Lockheed Martin Reach Agreement Reducing F-35A Cost By 12.8 Percent

Date 29.10.2019

fl_en|fl_cs

The F-35A is now below $80 million; lower cost than legacy aircraft   The F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) finalized a $34 billion agreement for the production and delivery of 478 F-35s at the lowest aircraft price during the history of the Program. This contract includes all U.S., International Partners and Foreign Military […]

Show more
Subscribe to our magazineRegister now