VSS Unity Tourist SpaceshipVirgin Galactic made its first manned flight, reaching the edge of space and successfully landing back on Earth. After 15 years of development, the company is very close to launching commercial flights, which should begin next year.
May 22 from the launch pad in New Mexicothe VMS Eve carrier aircraft took off with the VSS Unity shuttle docked. Having reached an altitude of 13.7 km, the six-seat spacecraft undocked and continued lifting with the help of its own jet engine. As a result, it accelerated to a speed three times the speed of sound, and reached an altitude of 89 km above sea level, leaving the stratosphere.
There were two pilots on board the shuttle, weightsensors that collect all flight data, as well as NASA research equipment installed as part of the Flight Opportunities collaboration program, which also recorded acceleration and trajectory. All this helped to assess the effectiveness of the latest changes in the elements of the hull and control systems.
Prior to the commencement of commercial flights, VSS Unity willat least two more suborbital flights. In one of them, 4 specialists will already be on board, and in the other, the founder of Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson, who observed the test from the underground control center, is to go to the border of space.
The launch was repeatedly postponed.It was originally scheduled for December 2020, but due to technical problems, the ship's jet engine did not start, so the pilots were forced to make an emergency landing.
Due to the repeated postponement of the test datemany investors stopped supporting the company, as a result of which its shares fell by more than 70% in a couple of months. In early February, the rate was $ 62.8, and on May 19, on the eve of the launch announcement, they were already on sale at $ 17.27.
In addition, the hangar and launch pad were built with significant support from the New Mexico government and local residents who have invested more than $ 200 million in infrastructure.
Returning Investor Attention
Since the announcement of the date of the first mannedDuring the flight of VSS Unity, the situation began to improve. Already on May 20, Virgin Galactic shares gained 6.36%, and within a day after the successful completion of the tests, the rate rose by 30%. At press time, they are trading at $ 25.53, up nearly 50% over the week.
Analysts believe that in the future,investor interest will be influenced by the intensity of new flights reported, their success, Sir Richard Branson's participation in them, as well as the actions of the company's closest competitors, Blue Origin and SpaceX.
The exact timing of the launch of the first commercial flights is still unknown. Virgin Galactic plans to start sending tourists into space in 2022.