Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or the “Company”) announced on November 2nd, 2023 the completion of its sixth space mission in six months and tenth to date. The ‘Galactic 05’ mission saw Virgin Galactic’s spaceship converted into a suborbital lab for space-based scientific research for the second time.
Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said: “Providing researchers with reliable and repeatable access to a high-quality microgravity environment is vital to our mission of expanding human knowledge and enabling scientific discoveries. We are proud to support the work of the Southwest Research Institute and International Institute for Astronautical Sciences with today’s flight, and we will use insights from the mission to enhance the research capabilities of our future Delta-class spaceships. We look forward to playing an increasingly important role in space research in the years ahead.”
Onboard ‘Galactic 05’:
- Astronaut 020 – Dr. Alan Stern, U.S. Planetary Scientist and Associate Vice President in Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Space Sector
- Astronaut 021 – Kellie Gerardi, U.S. Payload Specialist and Bioastronautics Researcher for the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS)
- Astronaut 022 – Ketty Pucci-Sisti Maisonrouge, Private Astronaut
Dr. Stern flew with two human-tended experiments, including a biomedical harness to collect physiological data related to human spaceflight. He also conducted practice routines and procedures in preparation for a future NASA-funded suborbital research flight.
Dr. Alan Stern, U.S. Planetary Scientist and Associate Vice President in Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Space Sector, said: “The success of this mission is another important step in the development of the scientific and educational use cases for commercial suborbital vehicles. The potential here is literally astronomical.”
Gerardi flew with three payloads, two of which evaluated novel healthcare technologies in microgravity conditions through the collection of biometric data. The third payload examined how confined fluid behaves to inform future healthcare technologies in space.
Kellie Gerardi, U.S. Payload Specialist and Bioastronautics Researcher for the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), said: “The suborbital science potential for Institutes like ours is unprecedented and I’m also struck by the broader societal impact of commercial human spaceflight — after today’s mission, Virgin Galactic is now responsible for producing 10% of the world’s female astronauts, and I look forward to seeing that number soar for my daughter’s generation.”
‘Galactic 05’ was Virgin Galactic’s sixth spaceflight carrying microgravity and space-based research and its second in 2023, following ‘Galactic 01,’ a research mission with the Italian Air Force and National Research Council. VSS Unity was piloted by Commander Mike Masucci and Pilot Kelly Latimer, with Astronaut Instructor Colin Bennett on board. VMS Eve was piloted by Commander Jameel Janjua and Pilot Andy Edgell.
Source: Virgin Galactic