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article imageVideo: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo supersonic test flight

By Anne Sewell     Jan 11, 2014 in Science
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has completed its third rocket-powered supersonic test flight over the Mojave Desert, hitting heights of a record 71,000 feet. The first tourist flight to space is a big step closer.
The video shows the reusable space vehicle being carried by the Virgin's WhiteKnightTwo airplane up to 46,000 feet on Friday. The vehicle was then released and used its rocket motor to reach its highest altitude to date of 71,000 feet.
The two-member crew then took SpaceShipTwo and glided to a safe landing in the desert, just north of Los Angeles.
Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group, along with Abu Dhabi's Aabar investments PJS, own the company, made the following announcement:
"Today, we had our own Chief Pilot flying another flawless supersonic flight and proving the various systems required to take us safely to space, as well as providing the very best experience while we're up there."
"I couldn't be happier to start the New Year with all the pieces visibly in place for the start of full space flights."
Branson then added that this year "will be the year when we will finally put our beautiful spaceship in her natural environment of space."
Chief Pilot Dave Mackay told the media that the flight was a "dream come true," adding:
"I have watched SS2 evolve over the years into an incredible vehicle that is going to open up space to more people than ever before."
"To be behind the controls and fly it as the rocket ignited is something I will never forget. She flew brilliantly. All the tests went really well and generated vital data that will be used to further fine-tune our operations."
While no date has yet been set for the first commercial space flight, hundreds of hopeful people have already made down-payments for the first chance to fly.
Virgin Galactic s SpaceShipTwo makes third supersonic test flight.
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo makes third supersonic test flight.
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