Virgin Galactic introduces the Unity 22 crew

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Virgin Galactic is less than an hour away from launching its very first, fully-crewed suborbital flight. The space tourism company will blast after 3.30pm BST from the prestigious Spaceport America in New Mexico, US. More importantly, however, business magnate and Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson will earn his astronaut wings today as he will be one of the six people onboard the VSS Unity spacecraft.

What you need to know about this flight:

  • Virgin Galactic will launch after 3.30pm BST
  • Richard Branson is joined by three flight specialists and two pilots
  • The VSS Unity will fly to about 56 miles (80km)
  • This is the company’s first fully-crewed flight
  • Virgin Galactic will broadcast the launch live online

Sir Richard, 70, is set to become the second oldest person to fly into space after legendary NASA astronaut John Glenn.

His role in today’s flight is to personally inspect the spacecraft’s “private astronaut experience”, which he hopes to one day bring to the masses.

Today’s mission marks Virgin Galactic’s 22nd overall flight as well as its fourth trip into suborbital space.

However, the company has neven flow with a crew of four flight specialists before.

Ahead of the flight, Sir Richard said: “It’s a beautiful day to go to space.”

2.45pm BST: Elon Musk arrives at Spaceport America

South African billionaire and SpaceX chief Elon Musk has arrived at Spaceport America to watch the Virgin Galactic launch.

The tech mogul has already met with Sir Richard and the two were pictured together, arm-in-arm.

Sir Richard posted an image of the two spaceflight entrepreneurs on Twitter.

He said: “Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend. Feeling good, feeling excited, feeling ready.”

1.10pm BST: Virgin Galactic launch delayed by 90 minutes

Today’s flight was originally pencilled in to launch just after 2pm BST.

However, unfortunate weather conditions overnight have forced the company to delay the mission by 90 minutes.

Virgin Galactic is now on schedule to launch after 3.30pm BST.

The company said: “Overnight weather delayed the start of flight preparations, but we are on track to fly today with a newly scheduled time.”

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