‘Space feels close now’: Richard Branson gushes as Virgin Galactic completes first test flight


Success since the fatal crash three years ago

Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic conducted a successful test flight over the Sierra Nevada mountains of its SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship, three and a half years since the fatal crash.

“Virgin Galactic back on track,” tweeted founder Richard Branson following the brief flight. He added:

The VMS Eve carrier plane took off from Mojave, California, carrying SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity before releasing it 46,500 feet (14,000 m) above ground, Virgin Galactic said in a statement.

A rocket motor then accelerated Unity to Mach 1.87 during a 30-second rocket burn before the ship’s two pilots shut it down. The spaceship reached 84,000 feet (25,000 m) before making a smooth runway landing, the company said.

Founded in 2004, the company has not yet announced a date for the start of passenger flights but is selling tickets for a ride aboard SpaceShipTwo at $250,000 a seat.