Retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott told CNBC’s The News with Shepard Smith that Virgin Galactic’s successful first full-crew test flight into suborbital space on Sunday will have a huge impact on the commercial space race.
“I think it’s going to be huge,” said Stott. “We’re on that threshold, right, going over the edge, just like yesterday, and I think it’ll only get faster from here.”
The company’s spacecraft, VSS Unity, launched into the skies over New Mexico, with two pilots piloting the vehicle with billionaire founder Sir Richard Branson and three Virgin Galactic employees. It was a major milestone in the commercial space race and a step towards the commercial service goal of 2022.
Host Shepard Smith asked Stott what she thought of critics who say Branson didn’t actually go into space because his trip was suborbital. The veteran NASA astronaut, who lived and worked in space 104 days, noted that the agency views space as 80 miles above the surface of the earth. She added, “I think we have better things to argue about, don’t we?”