Virgin Galactic completes final spaceflight before two-year pause

WASHINGTON    -   Virgin Galactic on Sunday successfully completed its last spaceflight before heading into a two-year pause on commercial operations to upgrade its fleet, as the space tourism company seeks to finally turn a profit. “Galactic07 is back on terra firma, now as astronauts!” the company said on X after flying four passengers to the edge of space. “Our pilots, crew and spaceship have landed safely at Spaceport America, New Mexico.”  A huge carrier plane took off from the runway at 8:31 am Mountain Time and climbed to an altitude of some 44,500 feet (13,500 meters) over approximately 50 minutes. After that, it released from under its wings a spaceplane helmed by two pilots that soared at supersonic speed to a peak altitude of 54.5 miles (88 km), where the passengers were able to enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness and admire the Earth’s curve. It landed on the same runway at 9:41 am, having accelerated to almost three times the speed of sound. One of the private astronauts was Tuva Atasever, a Turkish space agency astronaut whose seat was contracted through another space company, Axiom, while the names of the other three were revealed only after landing. They were Anand “Andy” Harish Sadhwani, a propulsion engineer at SpaceX, New York real estate developer and airplane pilot Irving Izchak Pergament and Italian investment advisor Giorgio Manenti. During the flight, Atasever wore custom headgear with brain activity monitoring sensors to collect physiological data, a dosimeter, and two commercially available insulin pens to examine the ability to administer accurate insulin doses in microgravity, Virgin said in a statement.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt