The tourist spacecraft of Virgin Galactic climbed on Thursday more than 80 kilometers high above the Mojave Desert in California and reached for the first time what the company considers the boundary of space.
The rocket ship reached a height of 82 kilometers before it began its sliding descent, mission officer Enrico Palermo said.
The vessel ended up on a job later on.
"We have taken the space!", Said Palermo.
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Thursday's flight brings Virgin Atlantic a big step closer to realizing the dream of commercial space tourism. The company wants to take paying customers on the six-person rocket, which is about the size of an executive jet. Virgin Atlantic found Richard Branson said he wants to be one of the first on board.
Branson greeted the pilots after the test and declared: "Space is Virgin territory!"
Virgin Galactic regards 80 kilometers as the boundary of space because it is used by the US Air Force and other US agencies.
That is different from a long-term vision that the border is 100 kilometers. Virgin Atlantic CEO George Whitesides noted that recent research favors the lower position.
At the beginning of the test flight, a special jet plane with the Virgin Space Ship Unity climbed to a height of 13,100 meters before the ship was released. The spaceship lit its rocket engine and it flew quickly up and out of sight of viewers on the ground.
The two test pilots – Mark & # 39; Forger & # 39; Stucky and former NASA astronaut Rick & # 39; CJ & # 39; & # 39; Sturckow – will be crowned with commercial astronaut wings, "said Bailey Edwards, official officer of the Federal Aviation Administration.
The development of the spaceship by Virgin Galactic took much longer than expected and had a setback when the first experimental vessel broke during a test flight and killed the co-pilot.
More than 600 people have pledged up to US $ 250,000 for journeys with a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the earth.
The aim began in 2004 when Branson announced the creation of Virgin Galactic in the days after the flights of SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded manned spacecraft that made three flights to space.
Funded by the late billionaire Paul G. Allen and made by spaceflight designer Burt Rutan, SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X price of $ 10 million. The prize was created to stimulate the private development of rocket ships with which space travel would be available to the public.
When Branson licensed SpaceShipOne technology, it provided a fleet that transported paying passengers by 2007 to launch them from a facility in the south of New Mexico called Spaceport America.
But there were significant setbacks. Three engineers were killed in 2007 by an explosion during the testing of a propellant system at Scaled Composites LLC, which SpaceShipOne built and built the first SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic.
In 2014, SpaceShipTwo broke through Scaled Composites during a test flight when the co-pilot unleashed his unique feathering system early and started using it. The co-pilot was killed but the injured pilot managed to survive a fall from a great height with a parachute.
During the descent, the boat's double tails are designed to turn upward to slow it down and then return to a normal flight configuration before the vessel glides to a landing on a runway.
New versions of SpaceShipTwo are being built by a Virgin Galactic sister company and the testing of the flight is now in-house. The previous test flight reached 52 kilometers.
Branson is not the only one in space tourism: Jeff Bezos & # 39; Blue Origin plans to take space tourists on sub-orbit trips, using the more traditional method of a capsule on top of a rocket blasting off a launch pad. SpaceX Elon Musk recently announced plans to take a rich Japanese entrepreneur and his friends on a trip around the moon.