Virgin Galactic Takes Its First Human Passenger Into Space

Space tourism company Virgin Galactic has officially put its first passenger into space. The company’s spaceplane made its second trip up above on Friday, this time with three people onboard: two pilots and one passenger, The Verge reports. The previous flight only contained the two pilots.

The spaceplane, called the VSS Unity, takes passengers to the edge of space, allowing them to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. Today’s flight was piloted by Dave Mackay and Mike “Sooch” Masucci and the passenger was Beth Moses, the chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic and one of the pilots from the VSS Unity’s first flight into space in December.

Friday’s flight was the fifth flight of the VSS Unity. Virgin Galactic plans to continue to test the vessel through the end of the year.

Moses was onboard in order to get a feel for what the customer experience will be like in the aircraft. Her position in the passenger seat makes her the first woman to fly as a passenger on a commercial space vehicle. Previous flights have only contained “dummy” passengers. The plane also included extra weight in the cabin to mimic the potential weight of the cabin when it’s carrying additional passengers.

Virgin Galactic has yet to announce when its flights will be available for commercial passengers. In December, founder Richard Branson said that he hoped to make the trip in the middle of 2019, but noted that his estimates have been traditionally optimistic.

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