Watch an awe-inspiring video from final flight of Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spaceplane

Virgin Galactic shared an awe-inspiring video from the final flight of its VSS Unity spaceplane. 

The space plane's final commercial mission, called Galactic 07, took off from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico at 10:31 a.m. EDT (1431 GMT) on June 8. The suborbital flight carried a Turkish researcher and three private astronauts to an altitude of 44,562 feet (13,582 meters) before the plane dropped and ignited its rocket engine to carry the four passengers and two pilots to space and back.

"I'm most excited about looking at the Earth; getting the overview effect," a Galactic 07 crewmember says in the video, which the company shared on YouTube. "It provides perspective." 

Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity space plane fires its rocket engine to launch two pilots and four passengers to suborbital space and back on the Galactic 07 mission on June 8, 2024. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

The mission reached an altitude of 54.4 miles (87.5 km), marking the seventh, and final, commercial spaceflight by Virgin Galactic on Unity. The spaceplane is being retired to make way for the company's new Delta class of vehicles, which are expected to begin flight tests in late 2025 and commercial service in 2026.

Related: Virgin Galactic launches VSS Unity space plane on final suborbital spaceflight with crew of 6 (photos, video)

Among the passengers was Turkish research astronaut, Tuva Atasever, who conducted seven experiments during the suborbital flight. The experiments ranged from accurately dispensing and dosing an insulin pen in microgravity to monitoring brain activity in response to the cognitive shift caused by seeing the Earth from space, also known as the overview effect.

Unity's final flight attracted the largest crowd since the launch of Virgin Galactic's first fully crewed suborbital spaceflight in 2021, called Unity 22, officials said in the video. The crowd cheered and applauded as the spaceplane lifted off and then glided to a landing back at the spaceport approximately one hour later, at 11:41 a.m. EDT (1541 GMT). 

The video also captures footage from inside the space plane, including when Unity was released from Eve and fired its engines to reach space, where the crew experienced weightlessness and floated around the cabin in microgravity. Crowds on the ground were able to watch a full livestream of the flight and experience the success of Unity’s emotional final flight. 

"Once again, Virgin Galactic returning new astronauts to planet Earth, concluding VSS Unity's final space mission," a video voiceover says, and "paving the way for the next generation of commercial space flight."

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Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.