Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Reaches Space

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Reaches Space

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Reaches Space

Richard Branson center celebrates with pilots Rick "CJ" Sturckow, left, and Mark "Forger" Stucky, right, after Virgin Galactic's tourism spaceship climbed more than 50 miles high above California's Mojave Desert on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.

The flight marked the first time astronauts have launched from USA soil since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

The pilots of VSS Unity, a SpaceShipTwo-class space plane, returning from their trip to space. As of this writing, NASA is unable to send astronauts on its own to sub-orbit let alone to orbit.

Soon, the vehicle pointed nearly straight up, as it streaked through the same skies over the California desert where Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in 1947.

In July, after burning the rocket motor for 42 seconds, the VSS Unity reached a height of 32 miles.

Richard Branson's space tourism business achieves a great milestone. "It was maybe tears of relief as well". In addition to the two pilots, SpaceShipTwo was also carrying a dummy to simulate a passenger and four unspecified research payloads that are part of the NASA Flight Opportunities Program. SpaceShipTwo returned to the earth's atmosphere and successfully landed just before 8:15 a.m.

More than 600 clients have already paid US$250,000 for a ticket.

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Ultimately, the company aims to carry paying passengers on its spaceship, which is created to carry six people in addition to two pilots.

The achievement has been recognized by the FAA, which plans to award the flight's pilots in a ceremony next year. Future goals for the company include providing commercial spaceflights for paying passengers. But that may soon change.

The 68-year-old had been emotional throughout the flight, shedding many tears and hugging his son Sam as it eventually made its way to space altitudes. But the long-held view is the boundary is 62 miles. The company has its sights set on the small satellite industry, identifying a need that's not now being met by other launch providers, and its business model centers on proving low-priced access to space for existing companies, students, entrereneurs, and other types hoping to use space as part of their research or business endeavors. In October 2014, its spacecraft crashed during a test flight over the Mojave Desert, killing one of the pilots aboard and severely injuring the other.

As federal investigators investigated the crash, Branson pondered whether to continue, ultimately vowing to press on. This successful flight also makes Virgin Galactic the first commercial company to ever take human beings into space.

Branson has said he wants to be one of the first on board.

"Space is not cheap", he said.

"This is a test flight, a no-kidding test flight, with all the novelty and excitement and risk", said Mr Whitesides, on the eve of the flight. During the flight, the two men were able to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet, the company said.

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