The flight was a major success for the company. Image Credit: CC 2.0 Jeff Foust
Sir Richard Branson's dream of sending tourists up in to space is now one step closer to becoming a reality.
Following years of delays and setbacks, the fledgling space tourism firm's SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship took off from California's Mojave Desert on Thursday and soared in to the heavens.
Carrying two pilots, a mannequin and a set of NASA experiments, the ship reached speeds of up to 2.9 times the speed of sound and climbed to an altitude of 82.7km before returning to Earth.
"Today we have shown Virgin Galactic can open space to the world," Branson wrote.
The achievement is a major step forward for the company and indications are good that the first tourists will be going up in to space within the next few months.
Branson himself has hinted at the possibility of going up in the ship within six months.
Virgin Galactic is currently competing with both SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Amazon's Jeff Bezos to become the first private firm to send fee-paying passengers in to space.
It remains to be seen however which of them will be the first to succeed.
Source: BBC News | Comments (10)
Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic