Space `tantalisingly close´ after test flight - Branson

SpaceShipTwo test flight

Virgin Galactic tweeted that the spaceship named Unity was carried aloft by its mother ship and released over California's Mojave Desert early on Thursday.

Virgin Galactic said Thursday's landmark marked the beginning of final part of Unity's flight evaluation program, which began following a 2014 test-flight crash of its own predecessor, VSS company, which killed one of its two pilots and also place the undertaking. Both were employees of Scaled Composites, a Northrop Grumman subsidiary based in Mojave that built the vehicle.

"We applaud Virgin Galactic for its extensive work readying its spacecraft, and we look forward to its achievement within the commercial space and space tourism industry", the State of Florida's aerospace development branch stated.

The rocket went into a steep climb as the engine burned for 30 seconds and went supersonic, reaching Mach 1.87.

The VSS Unity utilised the SpaceShipTwo spaceflight system which consists of WhiteKnightTwo, a custom-built, carrier aircraft, and SpaceShipTwo, the world's first passenger carrying spaceship to be built by a private company and be operated in commercial service.

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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo completed a successful rocket-powered test flight Thu., April 5, 2018.

The tail booms are famous because "feathers" because their function has been likened to the feathers of the badminton shuttlecock.

"The flight has generated valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance which our engineers will be reviewing", read Virgin Galactic's post-flight write-up.

The last time Virgin Galactic turned on a spacecraft's motors during flight, it ended in a tragic crash. The company can now proceed with new phases, including full-duration rocket burns and powered flight. Company officials said past year they hoped to begin flying tourists up to an altitude of 50 miles (80 kilometers) some time in 2018.

Operational flights by Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo fleet will occur from Spaceport America near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The flights come with a hefty starting price tag of $250,000, spokeswoman Christine Choi told Albuquerque Business First in late 2017.

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