Tourism rocket ship reaches space on test flight

Tourism rocket ship reaches space on test flight

Tourism rocket ship reaches space on test flight

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two, VSS Unity, completed its first successful trip to space on Thursday morning.

The SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, landed from her maiden spaceflight in Mojave, CA, amid cheers from Richard Branson and the teams from Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company.

A tourism spaceship soared to the edge of space Thursday, the first US commercial flight to achieve the feat since the USA shuttle program ended in 2011.

According to the spaceflight company founded by Richard Branson, this marks the first time their spaceplane - called SpaceShipTwo - has made it to suborbital space.

Bezos' New Shepard has already flown to that altitude - an internationally recognized boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space known as the Karman line - though the Blue Origin trip did not carry humans.

Branson said, "Many of you will know how important the dream of space travel is to me personally".

The mated jet and rocket ship lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port shortly after 10 a.m. EST.

Then, two pilots on the VSS Unity fire the engines toward the frontier of space, typically defined as an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers). The company received an abundance of criticism focused on whether the danger of space tourism made the rewards worthwhile, but after following recommendations set forth by the National Transportation Safety Board's report on the incident along with further design and safety enhancements, they forged ahead to make today's event a reality.

Virgin Galactic considers 50 miles (80 kilometers) the boundary of space because that is the distance used by the U.S. Air Force and other U.S. agencies.

A close-up of Virgin Galactic's SpaceshipTwo, seen Thursday during a test flight in Mojave, Calif. Today, we have shown that Virgin Galactic really can open space to change the world for good ... Reusable vehicles built and operated by private companies are about to transform our business and personal lives in ways which are as yet hard to imagine.




Virgin Galactic has almost 700 people who have paid as much as $250,000 for its suborbital joyrides - more than the 560 or so people who have ever been to space.

Commercial airplanes typically fly at an altitude of about six miles. The craft, known as the VSS Unity, took off attached to an airplane, then fired its rocket motors to reach new heights.

In previous test flights, SpaceShipTwo flew to a peak altitude of 32 miles (52 km).

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman operate cargo ships that launch from the United States, toting supplies and food to the space station, but not people.

SpaceX, in partnership with NASA, is planning crewed missions for early next year.

As the test flights continue and Virgin Galactic gets closer to bringing space tourists on board, the waiting list for its flights grows.

Branson told CNN in November he hoped to send people to space "before Christmas".

Virgin Galactic has about 700 customers who have either paid the full price of a ticket or a deposit.

"Commercial space has great potential for American economic and innovative leadership", Elwell said.

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