Virgin Galactic hits milestone after first successful flight since 2014 crash

It’s one small step for Sir Richard Branson’s intergalactic ambitions and what could prove to be a giant leap for his space programme, after Virgin Galactic’s newest commercial spacecraft took to the skies for its first free flight.

The first such flight since a fatal crash of the VSS Unity’s predecessor in 2014, the passenger plane was piggybacked to an altitude of 50,000ft (15,240m) by a larger plane and then released, gliding above the Mojave Desert for around 10 minutes before a successful landing.

“This glide flight was the first of many,” said a Virgin Galactic statement. “We’ll take the time to properly and thoroughly analyse the vehicle’s performance before clearing the vehicle for our next test.”

During a spaceflight, passengers will experience about four minutes of weightlessness, and will be able to view the Earth from roughly 150,000ft (45,700m) up.

Plans were hampered by the November 2014 accident, which killed co-pilot Michael Alsbury and seriously injured pilot Peter Siebold. While testing, the craft suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup and crashed.

After the latest round of testing, the next step will be to increase the VSS’s rocket engine, taking the vehicle higher into Earth’s atmosphere.

Once commercial flights are in operation, the six-man spacecraft will cost the hefty sum of US$250,000 (€232,000, £196,000) per person to fly. For those who can’t afford the fee, a multi-million dollar visitor experience at Virgin’s Spaceport America in New Mexico offers a hands-on, authentic experience inside a commercial space launch facility.

Virgin Galactic  space  visitor attractions  richard branson  virgin 
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Virgin Galactic reveals new craft for commercial space travel

It’s one small step for Sir Richard Branson’s intergalactic ambitions and what could prove to be a giant leap for his space programme, after Virgin Galactic’s newest commercial spacecraft took to the skies for its first free flight. The first such flight since a fatal crash of the VSS Unity’s predecessor in 2014, the passenger plane was piggybacked to an altitude of 50,000ft (15,240m) by a larger plane and then
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During a spaceflight, passengers will experience about four minutes of weightlessness, and will be able to view the Earth from roughly 150,000ft
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