Virgin Galactic Celebrates Successful First Time in Space
Virgin Galactic celebrated its first test flight into space last Thursday, 13 December.
The passenger rocket ship – called VSS Unity – took off from the Mojave Test Centre in California’s Mojave Desert. The craft reached a maximum speed of Mach 2.9 – which is 2.9 times the speed of sound – and climbed to an altitude of 82.7 kilometres, skating the edge of space.
The firm’s Twitter account announced the plane’s arrival in space: “SpaceShipTwo, welcome to space.”
The flight was a first for the company, and is praised as a major breakthrough for its space programme – bringing its goal of offering sub-orbital trips to tourists closer to reality, something it has promised since 2008.
Virgin Galactic was founded by Sir Richard Branson in 2004, shortly after Elon Musk started SpaceX and Jeff Bezos established Blue Origin, the only two other players in the commercial spaceflight market.