Richard Branson will travel to space a bit later than planned (Getty)

Richard Branson will travel to space a bit later than planned (Getty)

Virgin Galactic has slightly delayed the start of its Unity 22 mission carrying Sir Richard Branson into space.

Bad weather at the launch site in New Mexico, USA has caused a delay of 90 minutes to the planned flight.

Branson and his crew had been scheduled to launch at 9am local time – 2pm here in the UK – but this has been pushed back. Take-off is now planned for 3.30pm BST.

Stormy weather last night meant a delayed rollout for the vehicles – the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity and its carrier plane VMS Eve – that will carry Branson into suborbital space.

‘Overnight weather delayed the start of flight preparations, but we are on track to fly today with a newly scheduled time,’ Virgin Galactic confirmed on Twitter.

The space tourism company’s Unity 22 flight is the 22nd test flight of the reusable SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity that will eventually carry paying customers into weightlessness.

This Saturday, May 22, 2021 image provided by Virgin Galactic shows the release of VSS Unity from VMS Eve and ignition of rocket motor over Spaceport America, N.M. Virgin Galactic finally has the federal government???s approval to start launching customers into space from New Mexico. Richard Branson???s rocketship company announced the Federal Aviation Administration???s updated license on Friday, June 25. It???s the final hurdle in Virgin Galactic???s years-long effort to send paying passengers on short space hops. (Virgin Galactic via AP)

The release of VSS Unity from VMS Eve and ignition of rocket motor over Spaceport America in New Mexico (Credits: AP)

This mission will be the fourth spaceflight for the space plane and the first fully crewed flight of the vehicle.

Who is joining Richard Branson on the flight?

Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 crew: (Left to right) Dave Mackay, Colin Bennett, Beth Moses, Richard Branson, Sirisha Bandla, Michael Masucci. (Virgin Galactic)

Sir Richard has dubbed himself ‘Astronaut 001’ and will be responsible for evaluating ‘the private astronaut experience’.

Branson has undergone the same training, preparation and flight as Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts. He will be joined on the flight by:

  • Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic. Moses will serve as cabin lead and test director in space, overseeing the safe and efficient execution of the test flight objectives.
  • Colin Bennett, Lead Operations Engineer at Virgin Galactic. Bennett will evaluate cabin equipment, procedures, and experience during both the boost phase and in the weightless environment.
  • Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galactic. Bandla will be evaluating the human-tended research experience, using an experiment from the University of Florida that requires several handheld fixation tubes that will be activated at various points in the flight profile.
  • Pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci who will be flying VSS Unity into suborbital space.


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