Following the announcement by Blue Origin that Jeff Bezos is ready to travel into space on July 20, Virgin Galactic decided to send its own CEO, Sir Richard Branson, into space nine days earlier, on July 11th. Branson will be a part of the Unity 22 mission on a test flight on July 11th.
Virgin Galactic’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier said that the company decided to launch Unity 22 after completing the test flight on May 22. The company is now convinced that it can take another step forwards by providing commercial flights. The upcoming mission will focus on assessing the spacecraft's cabin environment, seat comfort, and the weightless experience.
In addition to Branson and the two pilots, the other passengers are Virgin Galactic’s staff. Virgin's Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses will oversee the execution of the test flight objectives, while Lead Operations Engineer Colin Bennett will be evaluating cabin equipment, procedures, and experience. Finally, Sirisha Bandla, VP of Government Affairs and Research Operations, will be in charge of conducting the human-tended experiments onboard.
If the mission is successful, the company intends to restart ticket sales soon and make two additional flights before it starts its paid flights next year.