Virgin Galactic announced that it signed a new contract on June 3 for another human-tended research aboard its own suborbital spacecraft, VSS Unity.
The space company stated that Kellie Gerardi, a researcher and science communicator, would conduct two experiments during an upcoming flight that could happen as early as 2022.
Virgin Galactic VSS Unity Flight
Virgin Galactic's announcement is notable because it suggests that there may be a viable business for the company in this type of research.
Also, it is notable because the news provides further evidence that regular people could one day be able to go into space as more space companies start scheduling flights there.
Gerardi has been involved in the commercial space industry before working for the Commercial Space Federation for 10 years. She got this flight by partnering with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences to secure research contracts with the National Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Space Agency.
During Gerardi's flight, she will wear an Astroskin that will monitor her vital signs, according to Ars Technica. Then, within 3 to 4 minutes of weightlessness to work with, Gerardi will also conduct a free-floating fluid configuration experiment.
Virgin Orbit did not say how much the seat cost, but Gerardi stated in an interview with Reuters that the flight was affordable. She said that there are so many people on Twitter who say that they are future astronauts, and she thinks that this proves that it can be true, especially now that the aspiration has an avenue to become true.
Gerardi stated that she had full confidence in Virgin Galactic getting its spacecraft VSS Unity ready for commercial service and the safety of its launch system. The launch system uses a carrier aircraft and a spacecraft to fly above 80 kilometers.
Virgin Galactic Missions
Virgin Galactic recently launched its first-ever successful test flight from New Mexico, and the company intends to complete its test campaign before 2021 ends, said Sirisha Bandla, the vice president of government affairs for the company.
The next mission for Virgin Galactic is a test flight with employees seated in the passenger cabin. This test will be followed by a flight carrying Sir Richard Branson, the company's founder, according to Bloomberg.
Finally, the company will launch a flight for the researchers and the astronauts currently in training in the Italian Air Force.
Bandla stated that they will finish their test flight program before 2021 ends, and they will make scheduling decisions after the program has been completed.
Among the company's future scheduled missions are the research flight that Gerardi will be a part of, a science mission that is funded by NASA that will include scientist Alan Stern, and flights that are set for more than 600 people who have purchased tickets to become private astronauts.
Virgin Galactic did not state how often it will fly the VSS Unity spacecraft and if there will be any additional spacecraft in its building.
So far, Virgin Galactic's flight rate has been low and is more affordable than that of SpaceX, and it seems that there is an increasing demand for its services.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by Sophie Webster