Virgin Galactic first manned flight into space
The Unity 22 mission from Virgin Galactic saw two pilots and four crew members, including Virgin founder Richard Branson – arrive at an altitude of 53.5 miles with VSS Unity before returning safely to Spaceport America in New Mexico.
But there is an issue with whether or not Unity Flight 22 is counted as a normal flight to space. Virgin Galactic, for its part, accepts it as normal, but the Blue Origin company founded by Jeff Bezos said in a tweet on July 9 that only missions flying over the Kármán line are considered space flights.
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The Kármán line is 62 miles above sea level. Unity 22 reached 8.5 miles below the limit. Blue Origin’s first fully manned flight, meanwhile, is due to take Bezos and his crew over the Kármán line with the New Shepard rocket on July 20.
This means that either Branson went into space nine days apart or Bezos will be the first to actually reach the last extra 8.5 miles. Whichever one we accept is certain. Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are closer than ever to bringing space exploration to the private sector.
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Virgin Galactic has also launched a charity draw with the help of Omaze, which will result in a two-seat draw for one of the company’s upcoming flights. Proceeds from the draws raised by Charity for America will be promoted to Space for Humanity, a nonprofit that claims to “expand access to space for all mankind.”
Video from YouTube channel Virgin Galactic