Virgin Galactic's Unity 25 spaceflight in photos (gallery)

jamila gilbert in an upside-down cockpit with bubble shelter above and the ground visible in the window
Mission specialist Jamila Gilbert during a barrel roll on a training flight, ahead of the Unity 25 spaceflight with Virgin Galactic, in a still from a training video. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic is ready for its first spaceflight in nearly two years.

Virgin Galactic will send its next crew to space no earlier than Thursday (May 25) at 10 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. MDT) from Spaceport America in New Mexico. While the events will not be livestreamed, you can likely watch on Virgin Galactic's Twitter feed.

Eight crew members will participate, all Virgin Galactic employees. It's the fifth time the company has ventured into space and the first since July 11, 2021, when Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was one of the passengers. (The company has been upgrading and testing its vehicles since then.)

The spaceflight will see two pilots of the carrier plane VMS Eve bring the spaceplane VSS Unity to an altitude of roughly 50,000 feet (15,000 meters). Eve will then release Unity, whose two pilots will use the spacecraft's rocket motor to fly four crew members beyond 50 miles (80 kilometers), high enough to reach space by some definitions.

Virgin Galactic has said the flight, known as Unity 25, will be the last test ahead of starting commercial service. Follow along with the flight and its crew members in the gallery below.

Related: Meet the 8 people flying on Virgin Galactic's 5th spaceflight on Thursday

Virgin Galactic uses a carrier plane, VMS Eve, and a spaceship called VSS Unity for spaceflights. Here the duo is seen during the Unity 24 test flight. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Unity 25's VSS Unity commander Mike Masucci, left, shakes hands with fellow Virgin Galactic pilot Dave McKay after a past flight, as seen in a still from a company video. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

cj sturckow in an orange training suit sitting inside a space shuttle training cockpit with training materials on his knees

C.J. Sturckow, VSS Unity pilot on Unity 25, is a former NASA astronaut who flew on four space shuttle missions before joining Virgin Galactic. Here he readies for command of mission STS-128 during training with NASA in 2009. (Image credit: NASA)

Jameel Janjua, Unity 25's commander of VMS Eve, in a screenshot from a promotional video for the Canadian Armed Forces in 2013. Janjua previously served there as a weapons instructor and fighter pilot. (Image credit: Canadian Armed Forces)

Unity 25 crew member Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic's chief astronaut instructor, has been to space on two previous Virgin Galactic flights. Here, Moses looks out the window of VSS Unity during a test flight with pilots Dave Mackay and Michael "Sooch" Masucci, on Feb. 22, 2018. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic Unity 25 crew member and mission specialist Christopher Huie in a simulator ahead of spaceflight, in a still from a training video. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Mission specialist Jamila Gilbert during a barrel roll on a training flight, ahead of the Unity 25 spaceflight with Virgin Galactic, in a still from a training video. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: