29th test flight
On Thursday, Alan Stern, a planetary scientist who led NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, had the opportunity to experience a flight to the edge of space and return on Virgin Galactic’s winged spaceplane. This marked the company’s 29th test flight.
the fifth sub-orbital flight for commercial purposes.
Kellie Gerardi, a renowned researcher and influential figure in the STEM field, along with Ketty Maisonrouge, an investment manager from Italy, two pilots from Virgin Galactic, and a trainer from the company, were transported by a carrier jet to an altitude of approximately 44,700 feet above the New Mexico desert. From there, the Unity spaceplane was released.
Michael Masucci, the Unity commander, and Kelly Latimer, the pilot, were in charge of the controls.
former flight veterans
Colin Bennett, a trainer for Virgin’s astronauts, joined the three passengers in the multi-window cabin of the Unity spacecraft.
NASA has deemed 50 miles as the point where the distinguishable atmosphere ends and space begins, as the object began its descent back to Earth after reaching an apogee of 54.2 miles.
While experiencing weightlessness, Stern and Gerardi conducted five experiments that mainly studied the physiological effects of microgravity.
Stern utilized a biomedical harness to track how his body responded to weightlessness. He also intended to familiarize himself with the operation of a sophisticated camera that will be utilized during an upcoming NASA mission for astronomical research. Gerardi’s objectives included conducting three experiments focused on microgravity healthcare and fluid dynamics.
2007 Mars Scout Phoenix Lander mission
The ex-leader of NASA’s science department and the head researcher for the agency’s 2007 mission to land the Phoenix spacecraft on Mars.
The Pluto mission by New Horizons spacecraft.
Stern is currently a member of the space science division at the Southwest Research Institute, where he was previously sponsored.
Stern wrote before launch that our goal in creating requirements, procedures, timelines, and training sessions is to optimize the benefits of this initial space mission and minimize any potential risks in carrying out NASA experiments during the second flight.
Although there may be additional tasks that could be completed, I am confident that our plan for flight operations and training is sufficient for the relatively inexpensive nature of this mission. However, the ultimate test will be during the performance in space, far above southern New Mexico.
The International Institute for Astronautical Sciences sponsored Gerardi’s journey, while the National Research Council of Canada was responsible for developing her experiments. Maisonrouge, an investment manager from Italy who was raised in Switzerland and France, was one of Virgin’s initial customers and allegedly paid $250,000 for a seat in 2005.
During its descent, Unity’s two wings rotated upwards in a “feathered” motion, as planned. This helped the spacecraft orient itself and create more drag in the atmosphere, ultimately reducing the stress placed on the ship during re-entry.
In the lower part of the atmosphere, the wings moved back to be in line with the main body of the aircraft, and the pilots directed the spaceplane, now functioning as a glider, to land on the 12,000-foot runway at Spaceport America. The landing took place at 11:59 a.m. EDT, just west of the White Sands Missile Range.
This was the 10th successful manned flight for Unity, reaching an altitude of 50 miles, and the fifth for Virgin.
Virgin Galactic has successfully completed 10 sub-orbital flights with a total of 49 company employees and paying customers on board.
15 successful suborbital flights since 2015, is now developing a reusable rocket called New Glenn
Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, has successfully launched 15 suborbital flights since 2015 and is currently working on a reusable rocket named New Glenn.
Currently, there is a standdown for the New Shepard rocket and capsule, which has traditionally carried 32 passengers. This is due to a booster issue that happened during a previous unmanned research flight focused on microgravity.
The upcoming trip for Virgin Galactic is scheduled for January. Blue Origin is projected to recommence New Shepard trips by the end of the year.