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Virgin Galactic rocket flies to the outskirts of space as company aims to offer tourist flights | Science and Technology News

Virgin Galactic made its first rocket-powered flight from New Mexico to the outskirts of space in a manned shuttle.

Two pilots flew in the VSS Unity as Virgin Galactic prepares to offer sightseeing trips to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere.

A live feed from showed the rocket accelerating upwards and estimated that it had reached a maximum altitude of at least 50 miles.

The website subsequently confirmed a radar landing.

VSS Unity's rocket motor sent ship and two pilots into space
VSS Unity’s rocket motor sent ship and two pilots into space

The first powered test in New Mexico from Spaceport America had been repeatedly delayed before Saturday’s launch.

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson later retweeted a tweet from Virgin Galactic indicating that the two pilots and a NASA-owned research payload had reached space.

Sir Richard also shared a video of himself celebrating the mission.

The company aims for commercial operations to begin next year after testing and a few months of downtime for maintenance and other upgrades.

These tests will include a flight that will take Sir Richard to the edge of space later this year.

In December 2020, computer problems caused by electromagnetic interference prevented the spacecraft’s rocket from firing properly.

Instead of flying into space, the ship and its two pilots were forced to make an immediate landing.

While Virgin Galactic’s share price has climbed this week with the news of the last test scheduled for Saturday, that has not been enough to overcome losses seen since a peak in February.

Some analysts have warned that it could be some time before the company sees profits as the exact start of trading is still pending.

Virgin Galactic is one of the few companies looking to take advantage of customers interested in space.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch four people into space on its first fully civilian flight in …

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This notice was published: 2021-05-22 17:34:00