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Virgin Galactic Reports Another Successful Test Flight of its Space Plane

Sep 07, 2013 5:46 am

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We’re all one step closer to a gratuitous press circus when Sir Richard Branson celebrates his company’s impressive accomplishment.

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Gene Blevins  / Reuters

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, still mated to mated to its carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo, flies over the Mojave Desert. Gene Blevins / Reuters


Virgin Galactic says it successfully conducted a second rocket-powered, supersonic test flight of the passenger spaceship it is developing.

The craft called SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of 69,000 feet (21,030 meters) over California early Thursday after it was dropped from a carrier aircraft and its rocket was ignited for a 20-second burn.

Two pilots and a flight test engineer were aboard as the craft reached a maximum speed of Mach 1.43, then glided to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port.

Both the altitude and speed exceeded marks set during the first rocket-powered flight last April.

Virgin Galactic plans to take paying passengers on suborbital flights that briefly enter space. The commercial spaceline is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS.

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