Colorado, USA (9th April 2019):
The three-person crew from Virgin Galactic’s second spaceflight have received Commercial Astronaut Wings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Chief Pilot, Dave Mackay, Lead Pilot trainer, Mike ‘Sooch’ Masucci and Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses, were presented their wings at the 35th National Space Symposium, where it was also announced that Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company (TSC) are to be presented the Space Achievement Award later this week.
The crew became the 5th, 6th and 7th people in history to receive this honor, and Beth the first woman to earn Commercial Astronaut Wings.
The wings were presented by the FAA’S Associate Administrator for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Wayne R. Monteith who declared: “Commercial human spaceflight is now a reality. These wings are just a small recognition for the truly remarkable achievement by these crew members to reach outer space. It shows we are well on the way into this new and exciting chapter of space travel.”
The February 22nd test flight completed Virgin Galactic’s second spaceflight in 10 weeks and saw the crew rocket into space at more than three times the speed of sound. As the spaceship coasted to apogee, Beth, who became the first woman to fly to space on a commercial spaceship, floated free to complete a number of cabin validation checks. Beth said: “It was an honor to receive my Commercial Astronaut Wings today. Since the flight we have been assessing the findings from my cabin evaluations; I’m excited by what the results are showing and looking forward to incorporating what we learnt into our cabin outfitting and astronaut training program.”
Richard Branson sent a message of congratulations to the crew: “Seeing Dave, Mike and Beth receive their Commercial Astronaut Wings is a proud moment for all of us at Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company. Our pilots executed a perfect flight and it was wonderful to have Beth float free to conduct our first live cabin evaluation. The flight was another historic moment as we continue towards our mission of becoming the world’s first commercial spaceline.”
The Space Achievement Award will be presented to Richard Branson at the closing dinner of the Symposium, and has been awarded in recognition of the success of both crewed spaceflights, which were the first from U.S soil since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011. Tom Zelibor, CEO Space Foundation said: “Virgin Galactic and TSC’s commitment to public access to space is an example to all of us of how vision, hard work and resilience enable great opportunity. They’ve created an inspiring environment for engineers and innovators to follow and the Space Foundation is honored to recognize their leadership with its annual Space Achievement Award.”
About Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial spaceline. Founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Mubadala Investment Group, Virgin Galactic will transform access to space for the benefit of life on Earth. To date, over 600 men and women from over 50 countries—greater than the total number of humans who have ever been to space—have reserved places to fly on Virgin Galactic’s reusable space launch system, consisting of carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo and spacecraft SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo are manufactured and tested in Mojave, California by its manufacturing partner, The Spaceship Company (TSC). Spaceflight operations will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.
About The Spaceship Company (TSC)
The Spaceship Company (TSC) is Virgin Galactic’s space-system manufacturing organization. Headquartered at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, it is building and testing a fleet of WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and SpaceShipTwo reusable spaceships that, together, form Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight system. Its team of talented and dedicated engineers, technicians and professionals are drawn together by a willingness to disrupt and challenge the status quo and deliver innovative aerospace solutions to our customers’ needs. TSC’s extensive capabilities encompass preliminary vehicle design and analysis, manufacturing, ground testing, flight testing and post-delivery support.