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Virgin Galactic Launched Its 5th Commercial Flight Into Space

Virgin Galactic is making its fifth commercial suborbital space flight on Thursday as part of the Galactic 05 mission.

Aboard VSS Unity, Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons Pluto project, and Kelli Gerardi, a fellow at the International Institute of Astronomical Sciences, who specializes in microgravity research, set off on a flight to the edge of space. The third passenger was a tourist of French-Italian origin, Ketty Maisonrouge. They were accompanied by Virgin Galactic instructor Colin Bennett. This is the company’s fifth commercial and tenth total suborbital launch.

VSS Unity took off under the wing of the VMS Eve carrier aircraft from the runway of the private spaceport America in New Mexico at 15:00 GMT. The spacecraft was flown by Commander Michael Masucci and pilot Kelly Latimer, and the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, was flown by Commander Jameel Janjua and pilot Andy Edgell.

At an altitude of 13,625 meters above the surface of the Earth, VSS Unity separated from the carrier aircraft VMS Eve and rose to the edge of space on its rocket engine, to an altitude of 87.2 km. During the flight, VSS Unity passengers conducted a number of scientific studies. Thus, Stern wore an Accutracker-II biomedical harness to collect physiological data that allows him to assess a person’s condition while in outer space.

In early October, Virgin Galactic made its fourth commercial flight, sending four passengers into suborbital space and returning them to Earth.

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