Max Q: Virgin Galactic’s triumphant first commercial flight

Hello and welcome back to Max Q!

In this issue:

Virgin Galactic completed its first commercial flight, sending 13 scientific payloads and four humans — including three officials from the Italian Air Force — to the edge of space and back. The 90-minute flight went off without a hitch, and its success marks the entrance of a new era for the 19-year-old space tourism company.

Virgin Galactic has major ambitions to fly paying customers, which could include private citizens, or those representing governments or other institutions, to suborbital space on at least a monthly basis. The company is gearing up for its next commercial mission in August, and is continuing to develop its next-gen class of specialized aircraft. While there’s plenty of work ahead for the company, this first mission is certainly a good start.

A passenger holds the Italian flag up as the craft reaches the edge of space. Image Credits: Virgin Galactic

In other news…

Airmo, a German startup with plans to launch a 12-satellite constellation to monitor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, closed €5.2 million ($5.7 million) in pre-seed funding. That includes venture dollars and a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA).

Anduril Industries has acquired Adranos, a startup that manufactures solid rocket motors for in-space and terrestrial applications — news that’s not related to the space industry, but which I find interesting nonetheless.

Lynk, a satellite-to-phone connectivity provider, has made its debut in Palau, with the company’s “cell towers in space” providing coverage to the entire country.

Ramon.Space, a space computing startup, raised $26 million from Ingrasys, a Foxconn Technology Group subsidiary, and the United Arab Emirates’ Strategic Development Fund.

Spire Global and Germany-based OroraTech announced that they would put a constellation of eight global temperature and wildfire-monitoring satellites into orbit by mid-2024.

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