Virgin Galactic successfully sends test pilots into space

Virgin Galactic successfully sends test pilots into space

Virgin Galactic's latest test flight managed to successfully launch a tourism rocket ship into space for the very first time - prompting an emotional Branson to do a little cry.

The company considers the altitude to be the boundary of space, which contradicts a long-held view that it is reached at 62 miles (100km).

Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004, shortly after Musk set up SpaceX and Jeff Bezos set up Blue Origin.

Richard Branson with pilots Frederick Sturckow (left) and Mark Stucky.

Soon, the vehicle pointed nearly straight up, as it streaked through the same skies over the California desert where Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in 1947.

The company said that during the flight the spaceship reached Mach 2.9, almost three times the speed of sound, as it touched what it considers to be the edge of space.

"Congrats to #VirginGalactic on SpaceShipTwo successfully flying to suborbital space with our four #Nasa#Technology payloads onboard", Nasa said on Twitter.

Branson, wearing a leather bomber jacket, hugged his son as the spacecraft raced upwards and a commentator called out the altitude.

"It's been 14 long years to get here", Branson told reporters after the landmark flight. "So the tears today were tears of joy". "It was maybe tears of relief as well". Rather than getting us back to the moon though, the main objective of these missions is to make a flight into 'space' commercially available.

He said: "The now-astronauts, who were pilots before, had this incredible experience, being in space... and had the ride of a lifetime". We had tons of extra propellant.

"Today we have shown that Virgin Galactic really can open space to change the world for good".

When it comes to Branson's status in particular, "commercial" is the key word.

Virgin Galactic successfully sends test pilots into space

A crewed spaceship built to carry private passengers has reached space - and generated its first revenue - for the first time.

Virgin isn't alone in the commercial space race.

Commercial airplanes typically fly at an altitude of about six miles, while the orbiting International Space Station is some 250 miles high.

"So sometime next year when the testing is finished it will move there".

In the process, Stucky and Sturckow became Virgin Galactic's first astronauts. Afterward, Branson was asked on CNBC when the company would start ferrying human passengers.

As predicted, Virgin Galactic's supersonic plane VSS Unity took off for a test flight on Thursday, touching the edge of space before safely returning to Earth.

VSS Unity achieved a major step forward for the young commercial space tourism industry when its two pilots topped the 50-mile (80-kilometer) above Earth mark during its flight.

Nonetheless, despite this misfortune, more than 600 people have already bought tickets or put down deposits, said Sir Richard.

The next flight test is expected within the next couple of months, depending on data analysis from Thursday's flight, Virgin Galactic said.

Be that as it may, the successful sub-orbital flight by Stucky and Sturckow will be followed by more flights in 2019, including one where Branson himself will be a passenger. "There have been two people before that have flown winged spacecraft to space and back".

The company is mainly focused on safety as well as eventually making flights affordable in the future. "I want this to be the safest space vehicle in the history of space vehicles".

That goal is still "many years out", he said.

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