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Rochester-Based Travel Agent, Future Astronaut To Be On Flight Line To See Historic Virgin Galactic Unity Mission To Space

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provided photo
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Virgin Galactic
The VSS Unity crew: Dave Mackay, Colin Bennett, Beth Moses, Richard Branson, Sirisha Bandla and Michael Masucci.

A Rochester-based travel agent and future astronaut with Virgin Galactic will be among those on the flight line Sunday in New Mexico for Virgin’s Unity 22 mission. Craig Curran is President of the DePrez Group of Travel Companies, which specializes in space tourism. He says barring any weather or technical delays, he expects to see firsthand the carrier aircraft take off with Unity in tow.

"We'll watch the drop at 50,000 feet of the spaceship, the ignition of the rocket motor, the 90-second burn as it goes up to space. We'll watch the entire parabolic flight and the return to the atmosphere. And, then watch the spaceship as it glides back in a circular pattern back to the runway it took off from."

He says this is a huge milestone 17 years in the making after Virgin Galactic won the X-prize in 2004. The flight will in fact include founder Richard Branson. Curran sees this as the next level of travel.

"The world is pretty open. Jet travel is easy. It's easy to get to any place in the world. While that's still very interesting, and engaging with other cultures is critically important and rewarding, people are also looking for more in-depth experiences. And space travel ticks off all the boxes."

Curran began specializing in space travel in 2010, and has been involved in many developments in the growing space industry. He knows there are many skeptics who feel it’s still out of reach.

"A lot of people don't realize how close we are...that we're there...that this is actually happening. When I tell them about the previous test flights of Unity, they're amazed that this is actually occurring."

Sunday’s anticipated take-off of Unity will be the 22nd test flight of the space vehicle, and Curran has absolutely no concerns about safety. And, he has no reservations when his turn comes up in about two years.