Virgin Galactic reaches milestone with successful test flight

Virgin Galactic conducts first rocket-powered test since 2014 crash

Early Thursday morning, the company's SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity suborbital vehicle was launched mid-flight by White Knight Two, a larger plane.

The VSS Unity is the first ship built from the ground up by Virgin Galactic's sister company, The Spaceship Company.

Virgin Galactic plans to perform a series of additional powered test flights with Unity.

According to Virgin Galactic, passengers float in zero gravity for several minutes during the flight, and "experience astounding views of Earth from the black sky of space", from approximately 62 miles (100 kilometres) above Earth.

Unity has previously flown on test flights in which it glided without lighting the rocket.

The firm praised pilots Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile for the "great milestone test flight".

Seconds later, the pilots turned on Unity's engine for the first time.

The company has not yet announced a date for the start of passenger flights but is selling tickets for a ride aboard SpaceShipTwo at $250,000 a seat. Burning a mixture of rubber-based solid fuel - called HTPB - and nitrous oxide, the rear-mounted rocket engine propelled SpaceShipTwo to almost twice the speed of sound as the pilots maneuvered the craft on an 80-degree climb. Images are courtesy of Virgin Galactic. The company can now proceed with new phases, including full-duration rocket burns and powered flight.

Virgin Galactic's first commercial flights are planned for the end of next year, and Branson's plans have been boosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's intentions to invest $1 billion in the company. While the company celebrates that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead.

The Spaceship corporation, which works in Mojave and is a unit of Virgin Galactic builds the spaceships. Company officials said a year ago they hoped to begin flying tourists up to an altitude of 50 miles (80 kilometers) some time in 2018.

The flight was the 12th overall for Unity, which Virgin Galactic officially unveiled in February 2016. A data review is next on the cards, before another flight will be carried out.

"Space feels tantalisingly close now", Branson tweeted after Unity's landing.

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Tell the family "dinner's ready" with Alexa Announcements
Apr 07, 2018 - 00:44
Alternatively, you can use commands to prompt Alexa to make announcements in her own voice, TechCrunch reports. The feature makes it easy to communicate to everyone in your home where an Echo speaker is present.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Federal Reserve raises key interest rate
Apr 07, 2018 - 00:43
Officials continued to project two more rate hikes in 2018, followed by three moves in 2019 and two further increases in 2020. The financial markets have been edgy for weeks, and Powell's back-and-forth comments have been only one factor.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Tinder gets inadvartently locked out by Facebook, lovelife panic ensues
Apr 06, 2018 - 04:18
Update - 7:30pm: A statement from a Tinder spokesperson confirms the issue has been fixed and the service is back up and running. Hours later, lonely hearts the world round were reporting they could no longer log in to Tinder.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Mild Thursday, Warmer Friday, Storms Saturday?
Apr 06, 2018 - 04:16
Also, even once the main line of storms moves through we could still have the chance for overrunning showers Saturday afternoon. There is now a slight risk for severe weather covering Marengo county, and a marginal risk for most of our viewing area.

M5.3 Temblor Shakes Southern California Area, No Damage So Far Reported
Apr 06, 2018 - 04:12
One resident near Beverley Hills said she could feel the ground "rolling". "We live in quake country", Kondo said. Sign up for our breaking news email newsletter: When major local news happens, you'll be the first to know.

Apple to add touchless gesture control and curved display to future iPhones
Apr 06, 2018 - 04:11
Apple wants to make sure iPad users know how to work with two apps at once, and also how an Apple Pencil can mark up screenshots. Instead of putting the sensors in the bezel, the entire screen would act as a sensor to detect finger proximity and position.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Colorado State University research team calls for another above-average hurricane season
Apr 06, 2018 - 04:10
The onslaught of storms left deep wounds across the Caribbean and southern United States that have not yet healed. Researchers at Colorado State said they plan to give updates on their forecast on May 31, July 2 and August 2.

Apple's Developing Curved Displays and 'Touchless' Controls for iPhone
Apr 05, 2018 - 01:42
OLED displays are capable of being shaped into curves or even folded, unlike LCD screens, which were used in older iPhones . While Apple hasn't introduced touchless gestures in the past, companies like Samsung and Motorola have.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Lockheed Martin hired by NASA to Build Quiet Supersonic X-Plane
Apr 05, 2018 - 01:40
No supersonic commercial aircraft has been in service since British Airways and Air France halted Concorde flights in 2003. Lockheed Martin has a long history of working with NASA and has been part of NASA's QueSST effort since 2016.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Did Julian Edelman help prevent another school shooting?
Apr 05, 2018 - 01:40
Without Edelman's reaction to the alarming social media post, police said, it's likely they would not have known about the threat. Julian Edelman was tipped off to a poster in his Instagram comments threatening to shoot up a school via a direct message .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Kinky: Watch Tiffany Haddish Spank Kevin Hart In A Chicken Suit
Apr 05, 2018 - 01:38
Directed by Barbershop: The Next Cut and Girls Trip filmmaker Malcolm D. Hard plays the student, while Haddish plays his teacher. Lee , Night School is set for release on September 28.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Prince Philip in 'good spirits' after hip surgery
Apr 05, 2018 - 01:27
Very last June, Prince Philip put in two nights in hospital as a "precautionary measure" to its treating an undisclosed infection. He has missed a series of engagements and events over the last month, including the recent Easter Sunday service at St.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top As Predicted, Chinese Space Lab Falls From The Sky
Apr 05, 2018 - 01:26
Such a practice, frowned upon in the worldwide space community, has been written off as a major blot on China's space program . The Chinese government told the U.N.in May 2017 that its space lab had "ceased functioning" in March 2016.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top New snow and rain warning issued for Cumbria
Apr 05, 2018 - 01:25
Temperatures dropped to 17 degrees at KCI Wednesday morning, breaking the record of 20 degrees for April 4 set in 1920. Highs Friday will be in the 30s and then dip into the 20s that night, according to the National Weather Service .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Gender pay gap on PM's list of 'burning injustices'
Apr 05, 2018 - 01:24
These are the findings of independent research carried out for SavvvWoman.co.uk, a leading finance website aimed at women . Sarah continues: We know that millions of people stick with their banks and insurers when they're not happy with them.