Virgin Galactic’s ‘Galactic 07’ flight window will open on June 8, 2024, the company’s final mission for the VSS Unity; its SpaceShipTwo-class suborbital rocket-powered crewed spaceplane.

“‘Galactic 07’ will mark and celebrate VSS Unity’s final commercial flight – an exciting and historic turning point for the business as we dedicate our resources fully to the production of our next generation Delta spaceships, on track for commercial service in 2026,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier.

It will mark the company’s seventh commercial mission and its seventh research mission. It will also be the company’s second spaceflight this year and 12th to date.

Virgin Galactic’s spaceship will again be converted into a suborbital science lab, with VSS Unity carrying an Axiom Space affiliated researcher astronaut who will conduct multiple human-tended experiments.

In addition, Purdue University and UC Berkeley will have autonomous payloads on board, supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program. This mission showcases Virgin Galactic’s ability to provide a flexible microgravity research platform, benefiting further space exploration initiatives as well as innovations on Earth.

Colglazier added: “Discovery and innovation are central to our mission at Virgin Galactic. We’re excited to build on our successful record of facilitating scientific experiments in suborbital space, and we look forward to continuing to expand our role in suborbital research going forward.”

The ‘Galactic 07’ autonomous rack-mounted research payloads will include a Purdue University experiment designed to study propellant slosh in fuel tanks of manoeuvring spacecraft, as well as a UC Berkeley payload testing a new type of 3D printing.

Virgin Galactic has flown payloads for NASA’s flight opportunities programme since the company’s first spaceflight in 2018 and was recently selected by NASA as a contracted flight provider for the next five years.

The mission announcement follows Virgin Galactic making the news recently with it dismissing the case it had filed against Boeing in a California federal court, claiming it of breaking its contractual obligations to develop Virgin Galactic’s space tourism mothership, as well as claiming rights to trade secrets.