Galactic 03 comes a month after Virgin Galactic’s previous flight, which sent its first private tourists to space.
The flight, called Galactic 03, marks the latest milestone for the venture, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, as it strives to reach a monthly cadence of launches for its commercial business.
The mission took off at 8:34 a.m. local time, the company said in a post on social media site X, with Virgin Galactic’s VMS Eve carrier aircraft hoisting the space plane VSS Unity into the sky from Spaceport America in New Mexico. Roughly 45 minutes later, Unity dropped from the aircraft and climbed to the edge of space, the company said in another X post.
On board this trip were two company pilots, three customers and one employee support astronaut, Virgin Galactic said in a press release last month.
The company didn’t announce the names of Galactic 03’s passengers ahead of Friday’s flight or provide a livestream of the trip, as it did with the previous two missions, citing their privacy. However, the company did release a video prior to the flight teasing the crew members’ nationalities.
Galactic 03 comes a month after the company’s previous flight, which sent its first private tourists to space. Virgin Galactic kicked off commercial spaceflight operations in June with Galactic 01, a research mission for the Italian Air Force — a feat that came nearly two decades after the company’s founding.
Virgin Galactic’s shares were down roughly 4% in New York. The stock is down 35% so far this year.