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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Passes First Space Test Flight

NASA congratulated Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic for a milestone in the commercial space tourism race.

Virgin Galactic, the commercial space company of Richard Branson, has successfully completed its first space flight test with its SpaceShipTwo aircraft. Called VSS Unity, the aircraft took off from the belly of the WhiteKnightTwo before separating and igniting its rocket engine to climb to an altitude of 82.7kilometers. The plane reached Mac 2.9 and its engine burned for 60 seconds.

NASA and the US Air Force recognize a space boundary of 80 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. There is a second border, called the Kármán Line, 100 kilometers above sea level, recognized by the International Aeronautical Federation.

The VSS Unity pilots have therefore reached the space and probably experienced microgravity during the flight. By crossing this arbitrary border, future passengers of Virgin Galactic will be able to receive the wings of astronauts that the US Air Force grants to the pilots who pass the line of the 80 kilometers.

Virgin Galactic takes a step ahead of Blue Origin and SpaceX

The VSS Unity had four NASA payloads on board, including a vibration isolation platform and an experiment that simulates how the dusty surface of an asteroid reacts to a microgravity impact.

Thursday's test flight gives Virgin Galactic a head start in the race for space tourism. Elon Musk's SpaceX has ambitious plans to carry passengers around the moon and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is testing rockets, but the two rival companies have not yet transported humans into space.

Nasa has tweeted congratulations to Virgin Galactic for "flying successfully in the suborbital space". This was the fourth SpaceShipTwo Virgin Galactic powered test flight that aimed to fly "higher and faster than previous flights," said Virgin Galactic. Mission accomplished.

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