Virgin Galactic conducted a supersonic test flight today of VSS Unity, a rocket-powered piloted Spaceship that will carry commercial passengers and scientific payloads to space. Following an initial and a subsequent supersonic test flight earlier this year, this marks the third powered flight and a key step forward in Virgin Galactic’s test program.
Any of the hundreds of people who’ve already paid $250,000 for the ride of a lifetime with Virgin Galactic will be eyeing their ticket with growing excitement following another successful test flight by the team on Thursday, July 26.
For the third time in four months, Richard Branson’s private space company achieved a flawless rocket-powered supersonic test flight of VSS Unity, the two-crew, six-passenger spacecraft that will one day take paying space tourists some 62 miles (100 km) above the surface of the Earth.
Following a smooth release from carrier aircraft VMS Eve at 46,500 feet (14,175 meters) over California’s Mojave Desert, pilots Dave Mackay and Mike Masucci fired up the spacecraft’s rocket motor before embarking upon a near-vertical climb at 2.47 times the speed of sound to an altitude of 32 miles (50 km), Virgin Galactic said in a report on its website.