Virgin Galactic's sixth commercial spaceflight may be just around the corner.
The launch window for the crewed suborbital mission, known as Galactic 06, opens on Jan. 26. And, to help remind us of this fact and build up interest in the flight, Virgin Galactic just released the mission's patch.
"The patch represents the Ukrainian, Austrian and United States nationalities showcasing our crew's global background. One star for each Pilot and Astronaut crew and a central seven-point star denoting mountains and continents conquered by members of the crew," the company wrote in a post on X on Monday (Jan. 22) that showcased the patch.
Four private spaceflyers will make the trip on Galactic 06, Virgin Galactic has said. The company has not yet released their identities. It's also unclear if the mission will be livestreamed; if so, you can watch it here at Space.com, courtesy of the company.
Virgin Galactic employs an air-launch system, which consists of a carrier aircraft called VMS Eve and a space plane named VSS Unity.
Eve lifts off from a runway with Unity beneath its wings and drops the spacecraft at an altitude of about 45,000 feet (13,700 meters). Unity then ignites its onboard rocket motor, powering itself to suborbital space.
Passengers aboard the space plane experience a few minutes of weightlessness and get to see Earth against the blackness of space before coming back down for a runway landing. Virgin Galactic is currently selling seats aboard the six-passenger vehicle for $400,000 apiece.
Galactic 06 will be one of Unity's final spaceflights, if all goes according to plan; Virgin Galactic intends to ground the vehicle to focus on developing its "Delta class" of space plane.
Each Delta vehicle will be capable of flying up to twice per week, company representatives have said. The first Delta space plane is expected to start test flights next year and begin commercial operations in 2026.
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com 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.