Virgin Galactic’s First All-Tourist Space Trip Falls Short of Reaching Outer Space

Space tourists, from left, Anastatia Mayers, Jon Goodwin and Keisha Schahaff pose for photos before boarding their Virgin Galactic flight at Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. Virgin Galactic is taking its first space tourists on a long-delayed rocket ship ride. (AP Photo/Andrés Leighton)


Richard Branson’s space tourism startup Virgin Galactic kicked off its first-ever all-tourist trip into the upper reaches of the atmosphere today — but fell far short of what could reasonably be called “space.”

The mission, dubbed Galactic 02, saw the company’s “spacecraft” VSS Unity rocket to an altitude of just 55 miles, or roughly 290,000 feet, after being released from an airplane down below.

To put that figure into perspective, the US Air Force awards pilots “astronaut wings” as when they fly above an altitude of 50 miles.

To be clear, that’s barely above the confines of the Earth’s upper atmosphere, or mesosphere, a roughly 22 miles-thick band at which meteors burn up and high-altitude clouds can still form.

That also falls far short of the Kármán line, an internationally agreed-upon border at 62 miles that roughly demarcates the border between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. Even that line was arbitrarily chosen by leaders back in the 1960s and falls dozens of miles short of an altitude at which it’s feasible to enter a stable orbit around our planet.

After all, there’s no physical boundary between the end of the atmosphere and space.

Free Fallin’

As a result, the crew on board the Galactic 02 was only able to feel the effects of weightlessness over a couple of minutes because the vehicle was rocketing back towards the ground at fast speeds — not because it was orbiting the Earth, or what amounts to constantly falling in the absence of air resistance.

To call the Galactic 02 a “spacecraft” is therefore fairly misleading. Considering it’s not designed to fly past the Kármán line, it’d be technically more accurate to refer to it as a high-altitude aircraft.

At the same time, we don’t want to hate on Virgin Galactic’s achievement too much. The company has been promising for decades to launch space tourists to the edge of space.

While the company clearly still has a long way to go to actually make good on this promise, at least today’s mission was a step in the right direction.

And in many ways, it’s a bit of a Hail Mary. Virgin Galactic has been burning through billions of dollars over the last three years. Branson’s other space venture Virgin Orbit is also on the rocks, having laid off 85 percent of its staff and filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the max apogee of the flight was 49.7 miles. In fact, the VSS Unity reached a max altitude of 55 miles.

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  1. While you celebrate the reality is that these people were used as Guinea pigs akin to the monkey they had sent to the moon.

  2. That’s because they can’t get through the glass of the fish bowl..and never will..they need our help to figure it out..

    • My original African brother. 100% correct. It’s the Melannated feminine energy they are studying.

      To the people and the authorities let’s just pretend that this information is not true and we did jot see it and just like the moon landing let’s pretend it was not all Holy wood.

  3. Look at what it takes to engage Antiguans –The majority of them had NOTHING to say about the limited SOE proposed by the police commissioner.
    How unfortunate for the few individuals who understands the value of maintaining their Freedom/Liberty – My sympathies to those few.


    • @😢😢…👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾✊🏾👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿
      You deserve, a #Standing_Ovation.

      Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood
      De ‘ole Dutty Peg🦶🏿Garrat_Bastard

      Vere Cornwall Edwards

  4. Increasing tv subscription and removing important channels to do crap like this. The Bible told us what is up there already. Concentrate on humanity down here. I agree with the comment regarding guinea pig.

  5. I wish these two women all the congratulations, happiness and benefits that they deserve.
    Never mind all that technicality about “Space Trip Falls Short of Reaching Outer Space”.
    These two women are to be commended for the work and effort they’ve put into this project.

    The incompetents at The Tourism Authority who having just completed a wasteful and laughable weekend in Sag Sag Harbor; are now planning to exploit these women and the event, and use this as a tourism theme.

    These two women are an anathema to the subculture that glorifies overweight women.

    Health and Wellness is now a tourist attraction in Antigua and Barbuda where most of its population is obese or overweight. Now it will be a “Health and Wellness Destination”. Bravo to the stupidity of this Administration!!

  6. Y’all sound dumb, why even print this ? Sounding like the bunch of hating, badminded Antiguans y’all are. Never once did they say they’re going to outer space, dem say them a carry them into space where they’ll achieve weightlessness. In everything Antigua s haffu show dem limited capability at analyzing and comprehension.

    Allyuh jealous and badmind aryu own to much and don’t know how to unite for a good cause, but as soon as it’s something negative allyuh present please.

    Gaston a tek way aryu land, freedom and rights and instead aryu unite and fight for that aryu a debate bout if people go space or not. Some y’all need to go fill that empty space in yuh brain with some common sense!!!

    • So I guess you want to take away people’s freedom.
      Or think that every Antiguan is a brainless drone. But we are all not going to smile and wave flags over foolishness.
      We celebrate real accomplishments. If you want to celebrate someone being pimped by Branson, so be it. But you can force me to, I will talk about the scam all I want.

    • They never said they going space because they know they can’t let’s all be real the firmament is real lol look how Israel defended themselves against the bombing by Russia they mimic the same glass dome covering us going to space is a money funding scheme to keep us lost from the true info what’s behind the artic walls galictic… I dear one of these companies or the U.S to allow trips the the ice walls center of Antarctica that’s where a lot of our answers lie my peoples.

  7. Who cares, there’s still no water coming through the pipes for day to day living on a regular basis…

    • U check,she n she pickney never question nth.Who knw da truth are enlighten.A experiment Dem b.Pipe off NF.Jus a wait till ma neighbor go sleep n thief she water,bout she vote ABLP

  8. What is the point of this article? Virgin Galactic always said they were going to “The EDGE of Space” NOT Space itself. They went up high enough for gravity to lose its effect, but they never said they were going to the moon.

  9. 🤣😂🤣😂 and they were on J’Truth case because he pointed out the facts, that this article is now shedding light on. For some reason I wasn’t moved by this space crap, could it be that i felt it was all a show.

  10. Always funny to read comments by people who fail to realize that they are making those comments using technologies developed specifically for space exploration.

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