This mission represents a new era in government-funded commercial human-tended research missions. The crew will board VSS Unity for a 90-minute flight to conduct a series of suborbital science experiments.
The mission’s two objectives are to conduct 13 human-tended and autonomous experiments which examine biomedicine thermos-fluid dynamics and the development of innovative and sustainable materials in microgravity conditions, and to collect data through wearable payloads and sensors, and by autonomous payloads mounted in the cabin on Virgin Galactic’s payload rack system.
One member is Col. Walter Villadei who first started his professional astronaut training in 2021 at NASA through Axiom Space, then qualified as the Ax-2 mission backup pilot in 2022. Col. Villadei is qualified on Soyuz, ISS systems, and Orlan for EVA activities, and is also the ‘Virtute 1’ mission commander. He will be attending to payloads, wearing a smart suit to measure his biometric data and physiological responses, and is in charge of the research execution.
A second member is Lt. Col. Angelo Landolfi. He possesses undergraduate degrees in medicine & surgery, diving & hyperbaric medicine, and forensic medicine. His master’s degrees include public health & preventative medicine, and in international military strategic studies. He also has a Ph.D. in legal medicine & forensic science. In addition, he trained as a crew surgeon as part of Cosmonaut training program, is a trained flight surgeon, and an EASA aeromedical examiner and CRM trainer. Lt. Col. Landolfi plans to measure cognitive performance in microgravity and to investigate how certain liquids and solids mix in microgravity.
The third member is Pantaleone Carlucci, a technical engineer and pilot who has worked at the CNR for over 8 years in the fields of engineering of scientific instrumentation on aircraft platforms, with a focus on the implementation of rack mounted payloads. Carlucci is in charge of the technical coordination of strategic products on stratospheric platforms and air launch and is a member of various coordination committees set up under framework agreements that the CNR has signed with companies operating in the space and aerospace sectors. On the ‘Galactic 01’ mission specifically, Carlucci will be conducting tests that involve wearing multiple sensors that examine heart rate, brain function, and other human performance metrics during space flight and in microgravity.
In addition to the three crew members, lead astronaut instructor on this mission Colin Bennett is carrying out all the training and preparation for the Italian Air Force mission and will fly with the crew to oversee the research flight experience for the duration of the journey. Bennett joined Sir Richard Branson on Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed mission, Unity 22. He has previously served a multitude of roles in Mission Control, including flight director.
The target flight date for ‘Galactic 01’ is June 29, 2023.