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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Virgin Galactic to launch 7th commercial spaceflight on June 8

•, By Mike Wall

Virgin Galactic will fly again next month, if all goes according to plan.

The company announced on Wednesday (May 1) that it's targeting June 8 for its seventh commercial spaceflight, a suborbital jaunt called, fittingly enough, Galactic 07.

It will be Virgin Galactic's second spaceflight of the year, after the Galactic 06 mission on Jan. 26, and its 12th overall to date.

Virgin Galactic uses an air-launch system that consists of two vehicles: A carrier aircraft called VMS Eve and a suborbital spaceliner known as VSS Unity. 

Eve lifts off from a runway with Unity beneath its wings, then drops the spacecraft at an altitude of about 45,000 feet (13,700 meters). Unity then fires up its onboard rocket motor, blasting its way to suborbital space. 

Passengers aboard the space plane experience a few minutes of weightlessness and get to see Earth against the blackness of space. A ticket to ride on Unity currently sells for $450,000.

Galactic 07 will depart from Spaceport America in southwestern New Mexico, carrying four passengers in Unity's cabin. Virgin Galactic has not yet identified these people, but the company has given us a bit of information about them.

Three are private astronauts, one apiece from New York, California and Italy. The fourth is "an Axiom Space-affiliated researcher astronaut who will conduct multiple human-tended experiments," Virgin Galactic wrote Wednesday in a Galactic 07 mission update.

Axiom Space is a Houston-based company that has organized three crewed trips to the International Space Station to date, all of them using SpaceX hardware. Axiom also plans to assemble and operate its own space station in Earth orbit later in the 2020s. 

During the Galactic 06 mission in January, an alignment pin that helps secure Unity to Eve detached unexpectedly from the carrier craft. This happened after Unity had separated and begun flying freely and did not endanger anyone involved in the flight, according to Virgin Galactic.