Fly along with Virgin Galactic's 1st private astronauts on landmark mission (video)

This is what it's like to fly to suborbital space with Virgin Galactic.

The company aced its first-ever private astronaut mission last week, a six-person jaunt aboard its VSS Unity space plane called Galactic 02 that lifted off from New Mexico's Spaceport America.

Those six folks experienced a few minutes of weightlessness and got to see Earth against the blackness of space — something we can all get a small taste of, thanks to video Virgin Galactic captured during the flight. 

Related: Meet the crew of Virgin Galactic's 2nd commercial spaceflight

Keisha Schahaff takes in the view of Earth on Aug. 10, 2023, during Galactic 02, Virgin Galactic’s first private astronaut mission. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

That footage includes glory shots of our gorgeous planet shot from outside Unity, as well as video of the four passengers inside the space plane's cabin. (The other two people on board Unity were in the cockpit, piloting the vehicle.)

We see the four passengers float around inside Unity, moving in microgravity for the first time. But they prioritize the view over flips and other acrobatics, mostly staying glued to the windows, wide-eyed in wonder at this new look at their home planet.

"I was shocked at the things that you feel," Galactic 02 crewmember Anastatia Mayers, an 18-year-old student at Aberdeen University in the United Kingdom, said during a postflight news conference on Aug. 10. 

"You are so much more connected to everything than you would expect to be," she added. "You felt like a part of the team, a part of the ship, a part of the universe, a part of Earth. It was incredible."

Mayers flew with her mother, Keisha Schahaff, who won two seats aboard Unity in 2021 through a fundraising competition organized by Virgin Galactic and the nonprofit Space for Humanity.

Mayers and Schahaff, who are from Antigua and Barbuda, became the first mother-daughter duo to fly to space together, as well as the first women from a Caribbean nation to reach the final frontier. And Mayers is now the youngest person to have flown to space, according to Virgin Galactic.

Also on board Galactic 02 was 80-year-old Jon Goodwin, who competed in canoeing for the United Kingdom at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Goodwin is the first former Olympian to reach space and just the second person with Parkinson's to do so, Virgin Galactic said. (He was diagnosed with the disease nine years ago.)

The fourth person in the cabin was Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic's chief astronaut instructor.

From left to right: Jon Goodwin, Keisha Schahaff and Anastatia Mayers — Virgin Galactic's Galactic 02 Crew. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic employs an air-launch system, sending VSS Unity aloft from a runway beneath the wings of a carrier plane called VMS Eve. Eve drops the space plane at an altitude of about 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), and Unity engages its onboard rocket motor to make its way to suborbital space.

As its name implies, Galactic 02 was the second commercial spaceflight for Virgin Galactic, following a June 29 mission for the Italian Air Force and the country's National Research Council. VSS Unity will fly roughly once per month from here on out, if all goes according to plan.

Virgin Galactic now has seven spaceflights under its belt overall. Unity flew five test missions leading up to Galactic 01, reaching suborbital space in December 2018, February 2019, May 2021, July 2021 and May 2023. 

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.