Richard Branson has spent a lot of time talking up his space tourism venture known as Virgin Galactic, all while Elon Musk's SpaceX has continued to make very real strides in commercial space travel. But today, after years of planning, Virgin Galactic finally completed a vital new test flight for its SpaceShipTwo (SS2) spacecraft.
Although the SS2 has already conducted about 26 test flights, according to Virgin Galactic, this is the first time the spacecraft has actually fired its rocket engines in flight. Reporting the news of the milestone test flight, which was conducted in the Mojave Desert, the company also revealed that during the flight the SS2 exceeded the speed of sound.
Reflecting on the achievement on his personal site, Branson wrote:
"This is a momentous day and the single most important flight test to date for our Virgin Galactic program…It marks the moment when we put together two key elements of our spaceflight system-the spacecraft and its rocket motor, which have both been tested extensively by themselves over several years-and start the phase of testing that will demonstrate our vehicle’s ability to go to space (hopefully later this year)."
Virgin Galactic has promised to upload video of the flight soon, which you can keep an out eye for here.
Via Virgin Galactic