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Virgin Galactic, Italian Air Force Announce Contract for Human Tended Research Flight

2 Oct 2019, 16:31 UTC
Virgin Galactic, Italian Air Force Announce Contract for Human Tended Research Flight
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SpaceShipTwo glides over the Mojave Desert after being released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. (Credit; Virgin Galactic)

WASHINGTON, DC, October 2, 2019 (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic has announced a new contract with the Italian Air Force for a research flight on the company’s SpaceShipTwo system during which Italian researchers will actively conduct experiments while they are in space.

The contract marks the first time a government department has funded a human-tended research flight on a commercial space vehicle. The mission, set to take place as early as 2020, will fly three Italian payload specialists and a rack of research payloads. The Italian Air Force payload specialists and Virgin Galactic’s payload team are working with the Italian National Research Centre (CNR) on the design of the experimental payloads.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo system is designed to fly both humans and payloads to space for tourism and research purposes. The company offers an end-to-end solution for payload flights that includes the use of SpaceShipTwo and its carrier aircraft VMS Eve, along with the hardware, processes, and facilities needed for a successful campaign. Virgin Galactic’s platform offers routine, reliable, responsive, and affordable access to the upper atmosphere and space that can accommodate ...

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