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Virgin Galactic Spaceship Reaches New Heights In Second Test Flight

posted 10 Sept 2013, 05:06 by Mpelembe   [ updated 10 Sept 2013, 05:07 ]

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson says he "couldn't be more delighted" with the record-setting, second test flight of the company's private spaceship last week.

Designed to carry passengers to the edge of space for joyrides, "SpaceShip Two" climbed to 69,000 feet and broke the sound barrier before returning to land safely in the Mojave Desert.

OVER THE MOJAVE DESERTNEVADAUNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 5, 2013) (VIRGIN GALACTIC) -  Virgin Galactic successfully completed the second test of its private spaceship on September 5, this time reaching Mach 1.43 and climbing to an altitude for 69,000 feet (19,812 metres) after being released from it's mothership.

According to a statement released by the company, SpaceShip Two is now the highest travelling commercial winged vehicle in history. The spaceship was released at 46,000 feet (14,000 meters) and burned its hybrid rocket engine for 20 seconds, which was four seconds longer than on the previous flight.

Virgin Galactic, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, says SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry six passengers up past 328,000 feet altitude (100 kilometres). They hope to reach that altitude by the end of this year and begin commercial flights in 2014.

The private space company is selling reservations for a joyride to the edge of space for $250,000 USD and say 625 people have put down deposits so far, including celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Beiber. Branson has said that he and his family will be on the first flight to suborbital space when the spaceship is ready.