This historic mission is Virgin Galactic’s first commercial spaceflight and represents a new era in government funded commercial human-tended research missions. The three-person crew from the Italian Air Force and National Research Council of Italy will board VSS Unity for a 90-minute flight to conduct a series of suborbital science experiments. VSS Unity’s cabin will be transformed into a suborbital science lab to provide the environment for rack mounted payloads and for the crew to interact with wearable payloads.

Mission Objectives

  • Conduct 13 human-tended and autonomous experiments which examine biomedicine thermo-fluid dynamics, and the development of innovative and sustainable materials in microgravity conditions.

    Read about all 13 experiments on board here.

  • Collect data through wearable payloads and sensors, and by autonomous payloads mounted in the cabin on Virgin Galactic’s payload rack system.

"Galactic 01’ is our first commercial spaceflight, and we’re honored to have been selected by the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council to support their first space research mission, ‘Virtute 1’. Virgin Galactic’s research missions will usher in a new era of repeatable and reliable access to space for government and research institutions for years to come."
Michael Colglazier • CEO of Virgin Galactic
“We’re proud to be facilitating international collaboration between spacefaring nations and industry pioneers to expand human knowledge. This flight will showcase our distinctive spaceflight system, which allows researchers to fly with their experiments, and our capacity to offer regular access to space for the science and technology community."
Sirisha Bandla • Vice President, Government Affairs & Research Operations at Virgin Galactic
“VIRTUTE 1 mission is the first Italian and European suborbital flight. A breakthrough and pathfinder mission, conceived and designed with Italian National Research Council and Virgin Galactic to test the versatility of suborbital spaceflight for scientific and technological research. We are flying payloads from multiple disciplines in one mission and are utilizing the entire flight profile to collect invaluable data. Suborbital spaceflight will revolutionize aeronautics transportation in the future, expanding access to space for a much larger community, and advance the development of scientific research."
Col. Water Villadei • 'Virtute 1' Mission Commander

Meet the Crew

  • Col. Walter Villadei

    Astronaut 008 • Mission Commander, Italian Air Force

    Qualified on Soyuz, ISS systems, and Orlan for EVA activities. In 2021, Col. Villadei started his professional astronaut training at NASA through Axiom Space and in 2022 qualified as the Ax-2 mission backup pilot. He performed multiple extreme analog training activities including centrifuge, parabolic flight, NOLS, survival training, flight training and scuba diving. Col. Villadei was the ‘Virtute 1’ mission commander. He tended to the rack-mounted payloads and wore a state-of-the-art smart suit to measure his biometric data and physiological responses. He was in charge of the research execution and the spaceflight will use part of his astronaut training for a future orbital space mission to the ISS.

  • Lt. Col Angelo Landolfi

    Astronaut 009 • Physician, Italian Air Force

    Undergraduate degrees in medicine & surgery, diving & hyperbaric medicine, and forensic medicine. Master’s degrees in Public Health and Preventative medicine, and in International Military Strategic Studies. Ph.D. in Legal Medicine and Forensic Science. Trained as a crew surgeon as part of Cosmonaut training program and is a trained flight test surgeon. Lt. Col. Landolfi conducted tests on 'Galactic 01' to measure cognitive performance in microgravity and to investigate how certain liquids and solids mix in microgravity.

  • Pantaleone Carlucci

    Astronaut 010 • Engineer, National Research Council of Italy

    Energy 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 payloads. In charge of technical coordination of strategic projects on stratospheric platforms and air launch. Member of various coordination committees set up under framework agreements that the CNS has signed with companies operating in the space and aerospace sectors. On the 'Galactic 01' mission served as flight engineer and payload specialist, wearing multiple sensors that examine heart rate, brain function and other human performance metrics during spaceflight and in microgravity.

  • Colin Bennett

    Astronaut 003 • Astronaut Instructor, Virgin Galactic

    Colin is the lead astronaut instructor carrying out all training and preparation for the Italian Air Force mission, and will fly with the crew to assess the research flight experience during the mission.

    Colin is Astronaut 003, who joined Richard Branson on Virgin Galactic's first fully crewed mission, Unity 22. Previously served several roles in Mission Control including Flight Director.

Meet the Pilots

  • Mike Masucci

    Commander • VSS Unity

    • FLYING SINCE: 1982

    • NO. OF TYPES FLOWN: 80+

    • MAIN TYPES FLOWN: U-2, F-16, T-38, Citation X

    • TOTAL EXPERIENCE: 10,000+ Hours

  • Nicola Pecile

    Pilot • VSS Unity

    • FLYING SINCE: 1991

    • NO. OF TYPES FLOWN: 170

    • MAIN TYPES FLOWN: Tornado FMK, 3 ADV, NH-500E

    • TOTAL EXPERIENCE: 7,700+ Hours

  • Kelly Latimer

    Commander • VMS Eve

    • FLYING SINCE: 1989

    • NO. OF TYPES FLOWN: 50+

    • MAIN TYPES FLOWN: T-38, C-141, C-17, T-34, B-747SP

    • TOTAL EXPERIENCE: 6,700+ Hours

  • Jameel Janjua

    Pilot • VMS Eve

    • FLYING SINCE: 1995

    • NO. OF TYPES FLOWN: 60+

    • MAIN TYPES FLOWN: CF-18, F-16, Tornado GR4, F-15, Learjet

    • TOTAL EXPERIENCE: 4,000+ Hours

Virgin Galactic Research

Learn more about Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight platform and microgravity research flight capabilities.

Watch the Livestream

Virgin Galactic will share a global livestream of the spaceflight. Audiences around the world are invited to participate virtually in the ‘Galactic 01’ spaceflight and see first-hand the extraordinary experience Virgin Galactic is creating for research customers. The livestream will be available to watch on

For media inquiries
Aleanna Crane
Vice President, Communications
for media inquiries
Jeff Michael
+1 (661) 754-4300
for investor inquiries
Eric Cerny
Vice President, Investor Relations
+1 (949) 774-7637

About Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is an aerospace and space travel company, pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers with its advanced air and space vehicles. It has developed a spaceflight system designed to connect the world to the love, wonder and awe created by space travel and to offer customers a transformative experience. You can find more information at

Forward-Looking Statements

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