Live Blog: Virgin Galactic to launch Richard Branson and Unity22 crew to space

The moment that Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, has been waiting to do for decades has come. He will finally join an elite group of people to ride a vehicle into space with Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed mission.

Today starting at 10:30 a.m. EDT Virgin Galactic will attempt to send their founder and group of pilots and mission specialists to the edges of space and back. The mission will use their VSS Unity rocket-powered spaceplane and their VMS Eve mothership.

Virgin Galactic Crew


  • Dave Mackay, VSS Unity Pilot
  • Michael Masucci, VSS Unity Pilot
  • CJ Sturckow, VMS Eve Pilot
  • Kelly Latimer, VMS Eve Pilot

Mission Specialists

  • Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic
  • Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic
  • Colin Bennett, Lead Operations Engineer at Virgin Galactic
  • Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galactic

The crew of VSS Unity will be taken up to an altitude above Earth’s surface by its mothership VMS Eve. Next Sturckow and Latimer will drop Unity and Mackay and Masucci will start Unity’s hybrid rocket engine. This engine will power Unity to a max altitude of just above 50 mi (80 km), FAA’s recognized boundary of space.

If the flight is successful today, this will give Branson, Bennett, and Bandla their astronaut wings and would also make Branson the second oldest person to go to space, right after John Glenn. You can find coverage of their flight almost anywhere but the official livestream hosted by Stephen Colbert and featuring music by Khalid will be found on their YouTube channel.

Unity22 Live Updates

July 11th, 12:54 p.m. EDT: The live coverage has concluded from Virgin Galactic. and since Virgin Galactic and Richard Branson have seemed to have already forgotten. We remember the test pilot Micheal Alsbury who tragically lost his life flying VSS Enterprise on an early test flight back in 2014. His sacrifice helped lead to the safe flight and return of the Unity22 team today in New Mexico. Ad Astra Micheal.

July 11th, 12:46 p.m. EDT: Chris Hadfield has begun pinning the Virgin Galactic Astronaut wings onto the mission specialists.

July 11th, 12:43 p.m. EDT: Branson announcing that they have partnered with Omaze to enter a sweepstake to win 2 seats to go to space on Virgin Galactic and tour of Spaceport American with him.

July 11th, 12:35 p.m. EDT: The VSS Unity team is approaching the stage to revive their wings.

July 11th, 12:29 p.m. EDT: The wing ceremony is about to begin.

July 11th, 12:28 p.m. EDT: Elon Musk has joined in congratulating Branson on his flight. A new report came out reporting that Musk is now a ticket holder for a future mission with VG.

July 11th, 12:24 p.m. EDT: Sharon Hagle, founder of SpaceKids Global spoke about how she’s excited to take flight with VG as an astronaut.

July 11th, 12:22 p.m. EDT: First look at the view of the crew during weightlessness.

July 11th, 12:21 p.m. EDT: Turns out these “wrinkles” are just reinforced mounting points for VMS Eve.

July 11th, 12:11 p.m. EDT: According to Space News reporter Jeff Foust, there seem to be wrinkles in the fuselage of VSS Unity. This could mean nothing, press normally haven’t been this close to the plane after it has landed so it could just be speculation into a regular problem.

July 11th, 12:09 p.m. EDT: The Unity22 crew has exited VSS Unity and joined their families back at the terminal building.

July 11th, 12:03 p.m. EDT: Khalid has finished his performance and VSS Unity has begun to be towed back to the hanger.

July 11th, 11:58 a.m. EDT: Congratulations have begun flooding into Richard Branson and the Virgin Galactic team, including the head of the US Space Force.

July 11th, 11:53 a.m. EDT: Khalid has begun his performance of his new single “New Normal”.

July 11th, 11:52 a.m. EDT: When the crew members receive their astronaut wings they will be presented to them by Chris Hadfield.

July 11th, 11:43 a.m. EDT: Next up on the livestream will be Khalid’s musical performance and a ceremony to present the first-time space flyers with their commercial astronaut wings.

July 11th, 11:40 a.m. EDT: Wheel stop.

July 11th, 11:40 a.m. EDT: Nose gear has now touched down onto the runway.

July 11th, 11:40 a.m. EDT: Touchdown of VSS Unity onto the runway at Spaceport America.

July 11th, 11:39 a.m. EDT: VSS Unity has lowered its landing gear.

July 11th, 11:38 a.m. EDT: Unity has passed 10,000 feet.

July 11th, 11:37 a.m. EDT: Unity has passed 20,000 feet.

July 11th, 11:35 a.m. EDT: Richard Branson shared his thoughts about heading to space and congratulated the teams that made this happen.

July 11th, 11:33 a.m. EDT: Unity is now past 30,000 feet and has steadied its speed to 320 mph.

July 11th, 11:32 a.m. EDT: The tail of Unity aka “The Feather” is down and locked to become a glider.

July 11th, 11:31 a.m. EDT: Unity has passed 70,000 feet in altitude and is subsonic (slower than the speed of sound).

July 11th, 11:29 a.m. EDT: Currently the passengers are returning to their seats as they begin reentry.

July 11th, 11:28 a.m. EDT: VSS Unity has reached 50 miles aka space!

July 11th, 11:27 a.m. EDT: Shutdown of the Unity engine. Expected max altitude is 280,000 feet.

July 11th, 11:26 a.m. EDT: Unity has reached 100k feet

July 11th, 11:25 a.m. EDT: VSS Unity is already mach 2

July 11th, 11:24 a.m. EDT: Drop of VSS Unity and ignition of the engine.

July 11th, 11:24 a.m. EDT: T-1 minute before launch of Virgin Galactic’s Unity22 mission.

July 11th, 11:22 a.m. EDT: The VG pilots and mission control teams are going through their final checks before launch.

July 11th, 11:21 a.m. EDT: T-5 minutes from drop and we did just get a quick view of the crew cabin.

July 11th, 11:20 a.m. EDT: Virgin Galactic has mentioned they would check in with the crew throughout the flight but we haven’t seen that happen just yet.

July 11th, 11:19 a.m. EDT: VMS Eve with VSS Unity are currently turning back east.

July 11th, 11:17 a.m. EDT: T-10 minutes warning given at the press viewing site.

July 11th, 11:11 a.m. EDT: T-15 minutes till the launch of VSS Unity.

July 11th, 11:10 a.m. EDT: As promised SpaceX CEO Elon Musk joined the onlookers today to wish Richard Branson good luck. He will watch the launch with Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart

July 11th, 11:00 a.m. EDT: VMS Eve and VSS Unity has reached 40,000 feet.

July 11th, 10:53 a.m. EDT: VMS Eve is currently at 32,000 feet, about 20,000 feet away from the drop point altitude.

July 11th, 10:52 a.m. EDT: VG is showing a video of the mission specialist singing a “guest book” at the spaceport.

July 11th, 10:50 a.m. EDT: Colbert handed it over to a panel of live hosts at Spaceport America including Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield.

July 11th, 10:45 a.m. EDT: Stephen Colbert has come on screen to begin the live coverage.

July 11th, 10:43 a.m. EDT: Scratch that, back to a countdown.

July 11th, 10:43 a.m. EDT: VG’s coverage has begun showing a live look at VMS Eve and VSS Unity flying away.

July 11th, 10:40 a.m. EDT: VG’s VMS Eve has lifted off from Spaceport America carrying VSS Unity.

July 11th, 10:38 a.m. EDT: Still waiting not the full start of VG’s livestream but the chase plane has begun taxiing out onto the runway.

July 11th, 10:31 a.m. EDT: VG has gone live with their coverage of today’s launch attempt.

July 11th, 10:20 a.m. EDT: We are about 15 minutes from take-off of Virgin Galactic’s VMS Eve carrying VSS Unity and the Unity22 crew.

July 11th, 9:46 a.m. EDT: The Unity22 team has left for the spaceport terminal and are on their way in a Land Rover SUV to USS Unity.

July 11th, 8:51 a.m. EDT: VG shared a video of Branson arriving at Spaceport America on a bike for his historic flight.

July 11th, 7:07 a.m. EDT: Virgin Galactic announced the stream has been pushed back from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. EDT due to weather delays.

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