Published: Fri, December 14, 2018
Money | By Bruce West

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Reaches Space

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Reaches Space

Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane takes off with the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity from Mojave Air and Space Port ahead of the fourth powered test flight of the passenger space plane on December 13, 2018.

Virgin Galactic's supersonic space plane soared into the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere Thursday for a milestone test flight. Then, about 43,000 feet in the air, VSS Unity's pilots commanded the plane's release.

The Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two rocket, which was carried up to a height of above 12,000 metres by a specially-designed plane before igniting its motors, reached 82.7km above the ground which is above the altitude at which space begins according to Nasa. Today, we have shown that Virgin Galactic really can open space to change the world for good ...

Virgin Galactic plans about three additional test flights before shifting to its spaceport in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Branson himself hopes to soar to space next year, the billionaire said in an interview with Bloomberg TV from the California desert. This was all made possible through Richard Branson's - Virgin Galactic, a company that is striving to make it possible for anyone to become an astronaut.

Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space.

The company considers the altitude to be the boundary of space, which contradicts a long-held view that it is reached at 62 miles (100km). 'So far train only five mins late - early doors.

Once released, the spaceship will fire up its rocket, and head for the sky.

Test pilots Mark "Forger" Stucky and Rick "CJ" Sturckow were scheduled to be at the controls.

But years passed, the program suffered delay after delay and in 2014, a fatal setback: The spacecraft came apart mid-flight, killing Michael Alsbury, the pilot.

In addition to the test pilots, a flight test dummy and four research payloads from NASA's Flight Opportunities Program were on board to help simulate the weight distribution of having passengers on board.

The successful fourth test flight for the spacecraft marked a major comeback for Virgin Galactic after the fatal test flight of its spacecraft four years ago. The prize was created to kick-start private development of rocket ships that would make spaceflight available to the public.

During descent, the craft's twin tails are created to rotate upward to slow it down, then return to a normal flying configuration before the craft glides to a landing on a runway. The co-pilot was killed but the injured pilot managed to survive a fall from high altitude with a parachute.

"Our team's biggest priority is to use meticulous planning and preparation to ensure that stages are dealt with safety, and that every outcome informs and improves future performance", Virgin Galactic continued. During the flight, the two men were able to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet, the company said.

Sir Richard is in a race with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to send the first fee-paying passengers into space.

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