Christopher Huie, an astronaut of Jamaican descent, completed the Unity 25 mission to space as part of Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. Joining him as mission specialists were Jamila Gilbert and Luke Mays. Together, they became the newest Virgin Galactic astronauts, tasked with evaluating the real astronaut training and spaceflight experience.
Virgin Galactic’s CEO, Michael Colglazier, expressed his pride in the achievement, stating, “The ‘Unity 25’ mission was a fantastic accomplishment for everyone at Virgin Galactic. Witnessing the sheer joy of our inspiring crew upon landing, I have full confidence in the unparalleled astronaut experience we have crafted for our customers. Our teams are now commencing post-flight analysis and preparing for ‘Galactic 01,’ our upcoming commercial research mission scheduled for late June.”
Reflecting on the experience, Huie shared his awe and humility at observing the beauty of Earth from space, a privilege enjoyed by only a select few humans. As one of the first 20 Black individuals to venture into space, Huie hoped to inspire the next generation of aspiring astronauts from diverse backgrounds. He aims to encourage them to set ambitious goals and overcome mental and institutional barriers that have hindered people of colour. Huie sees this mission as just the beginning and eagerly anticipates pushing boundaries alongside Virgin Galactic, shedding light on the innovative possibilities that commercial space travel can unlock.
Virgin Galactic also announced on social media that they have acquired land in New Mexico, which will serve as their Astronaut campus and training facility. This development demonstrates their commitment to advancing their space exploration endeavours.
Huie, a 35-year-old senior engineer based in Los Angeles, California, brings a wealth of experience. With expertise in aerodynamics since 2008, he describes himself as a “master of solving ambiguous Aerospace and Loads related problems” and prides himself on guiding technical decisions while mentoring junior engineers. As a future-driven leader, he combines emotional intelligence and organizational skills to excel as a Senior Manager, Loads.
Huie proudly displayed Jamaican and US patches on his uniform during the mission. The flight served as a planned test run for a mothership and spaceship in New Mexico, paving the way for upcoming 90-minute commercial trips to commence the following month.
The following steps for the mission team involve conducting post-flight inspections and analysis in preparation for Virgin Galactic’s commercial spaceline operations. The group focuses on “Galactic 01,” a dedicated research mission in late June 2023.