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article imageVirgin Galactic ship moves to the edge of space

By Tim Sandle     Dec 16, 2018 in Technology
The race between Space X and Virgin Galactic for space tourism has reached a new milestone, with a Virgin Galactic tourism rocket ship reaching the edge of space in a test flight.
With the new test flight conducted on 13 December, 2018, the Virgin space ship Unity, which launched from Mojave, California, U.S., has flown higher than 80 kilometers above the Earth. The success of this for the British company means that the moment that paying tourists experience near zero gravity is not too far away.
With the new test, the ship reached an altitude of 82.7 kilometers, for sixty seconds, before beginning its gliding descent, marking the first time the ship reached space. Pilot Mark "Forger" Stucky was in command for SpaceShipTwo Unity's flight, supported by former NASA astronaut Frederick "CJ" Sturckow.
Speaking with CBC News, Virgin official Enrico Palermo simply stated: "We made it to space!"
The video below shows the historic launch:
Whether the craft made it is into space is a matter of debate, according to website Space.com. The 82.7 kilometers was below the Karman line, which for many scientists is the divide between Earth-bound and space. This falls 100 kilometers above the Earth's sea level. While this is supported by the Fédération aéronautique internationale (FAI) - the the world governing body for air sports - there is no international law defining the edge of space.
The craft - VSS Unity (Registration: N202VG) - was previously named VSS Voyager. The ship is a SpaceShipTwo-class suborbital rocket-powered 'spaceplane'. Unity is the second SpaceShipTwo to be built and will become part of the Virgin Galactic tourism fleet. Unity has two crew and space for six passengers. The craft has a maximum speed of 4,000 kilometers per hour (2,500 miles per hour).
Richard Branson said of the test: "Today, as I stood among a truly remarkable group of people with our eyes on the stars, we saw our biggest dream and our toughest challenge to date fulfilled. It was an indescribable feeling: joy, relief, exhilaration and anticipation for what is yet to come."
While space tourism offered by Virgin may not be too far away, the cost remains prohibitive for most people. To take a suborbital flight now costs in the region of of $250,000.
More about Virgin galactic, Space, Flight, Space X
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