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Spaceflight from Spaceport America today

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Sunday 7/11/21

Flight into space takes place today

Sir Richard Branson is flying into space today from Spaceport America, located in the state of New Mexico, USA. This flight is, in my opinion, the third most significant spaceflight in history, and it will be broadcasted live on many different media. Naturally, the weather or unexpected technical problems can still postpone the flight. The rocket is the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, called VSS Unity. I will probably fly the very same rocket into space within one or two years.

Rocket crew "Unity 22"

The flight will carry two Virgin Galactic pilots and three other Virgin Galactic employees in addition to Branson. I have met two of them: Dave Mackay and Beth Moses. I chatted with them during my journey, Apollo for 50 years, in 2019. I have also exchanged a few words with Sir Branson himself. I am really glad for him that this flight is finally taking place. He has been talking about it for years. Since 2004, Branson has constantly been asked, “When?”. Spaceport America is sure to have a big party after the flight! I would have been happy to witness this historic flight. I do have an invitation to Spaceport America, but the COVID-19 restrictions by the USA prevented my trip there.

Two significant spaceflights in the history

The most significant space flight took place on April 12, 1961, when Yuri Gagarin flew into space and orbited the earth in less than two hours. The leader of the Soviet Union, Khrushchev, had prepared two speeches on Yuri's flight: Congratulations on his success, and the speech to The dead astronaut hero. This flight surprised and changed the world permanently, especially it had an impact on the United States.

As a result, the United States launched a massive lunar program that led to another major space flight: Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the moon on July 21, 1969, and uttered his famous words on a live television broadcast.
" That's one small step for [a] man, one Giant leap for mankind”
Neil's own estimation of the chance of a successful landing on the moon was 50%. Since then, shuttles have flown into space and the International Space Station has been built. Countless number of satellites have been fired into space, and much more has been done. But ordinary people have not had access to space. The risks and costs have been too severe.

Ordinary people into space

In the 1960s, it was widely believed that technological advances were so rapid that in the 1980s ordinary people would make space flights. Even Yuri Gagarin in his book predicted this to happen. However, this has not yet happened. Over the decades, there have been numerous projects that have had the same goal: sending ordinary people into space. However, they have all failed and forgotten. Today, Virgin Galactic is entering a new era in space conquest. If and when the flight is successful, Virgin Galactic has teken the risks and costs under control. I am proud to have been committed to the Virgin Galactic for 11 years.

After the flight

Richard Branson has said that after the flight he will share some great news. He thinks space belongs to all of us. What could he say? I think he is a kind-hearted businessman who, where possible, brings good things to everyone.
My guess is that he could say, for example:
-that going into space was a such an unbelievable experience and it will change his thinking for good
-when regular flights will start - I am one of those with a booking and I look forward to hearing when my flight will
-what are the flight prices for new clients
-that flight prices will drop, and in 2031 one can get a spaceflight ticket for $ 50,000
-that there will be free seats for students and researchers on future flights
-that in the future there will be Virgin hotels in orbit and on the moon
-some funny thing about what happened on the flight

Further information:

The flight takes place in the morning in New Mexico, when it is here in Finland. There is a live broadcast on Virgin Galactic website. Also worth following Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. Use the keyword “Unity 22” , which is the name of this flight.

Yuri Gagarin, picture ESA European Space Agency


Neil Armstrong, picture ESA European Space Agency


Virgin Galactic Unity 22 crew, picture Virgin Galactic

From left to right:

Dave Mackay, Colin Bennett, Beth Moses, Richard Branson, Sirisha Bandla ja Michael Masucci.


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