Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo blasts off for space, falls 20 km short

Virgin Galactic's supersonic plane reaches the edge of space in first manned test flight

Success of Unity's test flight means Virgin Galactic is now very close to taking its first paying tourist into space. Image credit Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic's tourism spaceship climbed more than 50 miles high above California's Mojave Desert on Thursday, reaching for the first time what the company considers the boundary of space.

In a video released, Virgin Galactic has successfully conducted a test flight reaching the atmospheric limit of "space".

A camera on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity captured this view of the Earth from just over 51 miles (82.7 kilometers) up during a test launch on December 13, 2018 from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The company was founded in 2004 by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson.

The VSS Unity suborbital "SpaceShipTwo" spaceliner took to the skies with the help of its carrier plane, VMS Eve above the Mojave Desert on December 13th.

The rocket plane re-entered the atmosphere at 2.5 times the speed of sound and landed a few minutes later.

In a double-whammy, Unity also carried four NASA-funded payloads on the mission, Virgin Galactic's fourth test flight.

British business magnate and founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, has said that a hard Brexit would be disastrous for the United Kingdom and would force many british business to close, leaving the country "near bankrupt".

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.

The ship's rocket igniting and vertical ascent through a cloudless sky could be seen from the ground.

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The successful launch comes after the original SpaceShip Two crashed during a test flight in 2014, killing the co-pilot and gravely injuring the pilot.

"All three projects are massively exciting.there are so many people who would love to go to to space so the more competition the better", he continued, adding that he has massive respect for his competitors. "So the tears today were tears of joy".

The company is now building two more spaceships in anticipation of the price coming down and more people signing up to fly. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.

"We made it to space", Enrico Palermo, president of The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic's manufacturing partner, said while addressing a crowd of cheering spectators at space port in California.

SpaceShiptTwo got to a height of 51.4 miles or 82.7 km. It sets that boundary at 100 kilometers, the so-called Karman line. It will be the first pair of wings awarded to VSS Unity's pilot in command, Mark "Forger" Stucky, a former Marine and test pilot for NASA and the US Air Force.

The aerospace venture company "SpaceX" aims to take passengers around the Moon in 2023.

Once the test program is finished next year, he said, the operation will move to Spaceport America, the futuristic facility in New Mexico where it intends to fly its tourist flights.

Sir Richard Branson celebrate Virgin Galactic's first spaceflight. "I forever dream", he told Reuters.

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