Virgin Galactic Rocket
Plane Soars to Edge of Space
December 13, 2018
A tourism spaceship soared to the edge of space Thursday, the first U.S.
commercial flight to achieve the feat since the U.S. shuttle program
ended in 2011.
The Virgin Galactic rocket plane, developed by British billionaire
Richard Branson, climbed more than 80 kilometers above Earth, which the
company considers the boundary of space.
The test flight signals a new age of civilian space travel, with Virgin
Galactic competing with other ventures such as Amazon.com founder Jeff
Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX.
Virgin's carrier airplane holding the VSS Unity spaceliner took off
early Thursday from the Mojave Air and Space Port, about 145 kilometers
north of Los Angeles, California. It returned to Earth minutes later.
the spaceliner and its two test pilots topped an altitude of 80
kilometers, a crying Branson hugged and high-fived some of the hundreds
of spectators who gathered in the California desert to witness the
The test flight comes four years after Virgin Galactic's original
spaceliner crashed, killing the co-pilot and seriously injuring the
"We've had our challenges and to finally get to the point where we are
at least within range of space altitude is a major deal for our team,"
said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whiteside.
Virgin Galactic is spaceflight company within the London-based Virgin
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