Virgin Galactic ‘Unity 23’ mission to fly Italian Air Force and National Research Council crew

Virgin Galactic has announced its next spaceflight mission after sending founder Richard Branson to space on its previous mission.

The company highlights that this test flight will be the first “commercial, human-tended research mission” for the service.

The “Unity 23” mission will be the 23rd flight for VSS Unity and will carry three paying crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council. The goal of the mission is to evaluate and measure the effects of the transitional phase from gravity to microgravity on the human body. Other payloads on board will study the effect of the microgravity environment on a range of chemical and physical properties. By testing and evaluating physiological and technological responses in sub-orbital flight, the mission aims to produce insights relevant to current and future spaceflight systems and technologies.

Pilots Michael Masucci and CJ Sturckow will fly the VSS Unity spaceplane while Nicola Pecile and Kelly Latimer fly the VMS Eve airplane that is used to transport the spacecraft before launching from the air.

The four person crew will include Virgin Galactic’s Beth Moses who will oversee mission safety as well as these crew members who will conduct the Italian experiments:

  • Col. Walter Villadei, Italian Air Force. Col. Villadei, a space engineer and cosmonaut, will serve as mission lead, tending to the rack-mounted payloads during the weightless portion of the flight. He will wear a cutting-edge smart suit, incorporating Italian fashion style and technology, to measure his biometric data and physiological responses.
  • Lt. Col. Angelo Landolfi, Physician, Italian Air Force. Lt. Col. Landolfi will conduct tests measuring cognitive performance in microgravity. In addition, he will activate syringe payloads from his seat to investigate how certain liquids and solids mix in microgravity.
  • Pantaleone Carlucci, Aerospace Engineer and National Research Council researcher. Mr. Carlucci will wear sensors that examine heart rate, brain function and other human performance metrics in microgravity.

Virgin Galactic is targeting late September or early October for the Unity 23 mission which will be streamed live on the company’s website. Stay tuned to Space Explored for the latest updates on Virgin Galactic and the upcoming mission.

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