Virgin Galactic sends 4 individuals on a journey to the outer reaches of the Earth's atmosphere and safely returns them.

Virgin Galactic sends 4 individuals on a journey to the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere and safely returns them.

17th flight

On Friday, Virgin Galactic’s rocketplane with wings successfully completed its 17th flight, carrying a two-person crew and four passengers to the boundary of space and then returning back.

The eleventh sub-orbital spaceflight conducted by the company.

Its sixth commercial mission.

With veteran pilots C.J. Sturckow and Nicola Pecile at the controls, the Unity spacecraft was carried aloft from New Mexico’s Spaceport America by Virgin Galactic’s twin-fuselage ferry ship Eve, taking off at 12 p.m. EST.

Once reaching a height of 44,493 feet, the carrier jet let go of the spaceplane. Shortly after, the pilots activated Unity’s hybrid rocket motor to initiate a supersonic ascent at a near-vertical angle out of the lower atmosphere.


A Unity spaceplane’s camera records the ship’s hybrid rocket motor igniting to propel the ship beyond the lower atmosphere on January 26, 2023.

Virgin Galactic

This was the first Virgin flight without a company astronaut accompanying the passengers. The four seats in Unity’s cabin were filled by paying customers, including Robie Vaughn and Neil Kornswiet from the United States, Franz Haider from Austria, and Lina Borozdina, who is a citizen of both the United States and Ukraine.