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Sun, Sep 17, 2023

Galactic 04 Mission Marks Virgin Galactic’s 5th Spaceflight in 5 Months

Flight Window Opens 05 October 2023

Virgin Galactic, the California-based spaceflight subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, announced on 14 September that the flight window for Galactic-04—the company’s fifth spaceflight in five-months and ninth to date—will open on 05 October 2023.

Virgin Galactic asserts its unbroken string of successful spaceflights evinces the company’s ability to deliver safe, repeatable space-travel and a transformative customer experience.

The three private astronauts to rocket spaceward aboard Galactic-04 hail from different backgrounds and cultures, but are unified in their shared passion for space, exploration, and adventure.

Virgin astronauts 017, 018, and 019 represent the United States, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan respectively. The latter individual will be the first Pakistani to travel into space.

The Galactic-04 mission will see Virgin Mother-Ship (VMS) Eve commanded by Nicola Pecile and piloted by Jameel Janjua. Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Unity will be commanded by Kelly Latimer and piloted by C.J. Sturckow. Unity’s crew complement will be rounded out by Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses.

Recent successes notwithstanding, Virgin Galactic’s has been an arduous evolution from concept to countdown. In 2004, Sir Richard Branson somewhat prematurely declared Virgin Galactic’s first paying passengers would journey spaceward in 2007. Fourteen years thereafter, Virgin Galactic made its 2021 inaugural flight, which unbeknownst to many, drifted dangerously off-course, compelling the mission’s pilots to heroic feats of improvisation by which an embarrassing emergency landing was precluded—just.

In July 2022, Virgin Galactic announced the signing of a long-term lease for a new final-assembly manufacturing facility for its next-generation Delta class spaceships, which are slated to serve as the company’s workhorse vehicle for near-future spaceflight operations. The first Delta class ships are expected to commence revenue-generating payload flights in late 2025 before progressing to passenger-carrying space tourism flights in 2026.

In the near-term, Virgin Galactic will continue to operate its Unity platform—the selfsame vehicle in which all nine of the company’s excursions to space have been undertaken.

Provisioned with a fleet of Delta class ships, Branson and his faithful believe Virgin Galactic can maintain a profitable cadence of four-hundred yearly space missions.

Passenger flights aboard Virgin Galactic’s Delta class are expected to sell for an eye-watering $450,000 per-seat. Customers will be required to make an initial deposit of $150,000—about $25,000 of which is nonrefundable—to hold their respective spots.

Despite Branson’s confidence in his company’s business model, investors have grown increasingly skeptical of Virgin Galactic’s profit-turning potential. In 2021, following Branson’s trip to space aboard the company’s inaugural flight, the publicly-traded company’s stock shot to $55.91 per-share. In 2022, however, after flying no customers to space, the company reported a net loss of $500-million.

On 14 September 2023, Virgin Galactic stock was trading at $2.00 per-share.

FMI: www.virgingalactic.com

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