VSS unit, Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered aircraft, climbed to a record height of nearly 56 miles during a test flight on Friday, and marks the second time Richard Branson's launch has reached space. Two pilots, and for the first time, an additional crew member, were on board.
Beth Moses, galactic chief astronaut trainer and a spacecraft engineer, rode with pilots. The tour allowed her to run security checks and get a first look at what Galactic's customers might experience one day.
On top of its flight route, Unity experienced a few minutes of weightlessness and looked out into the cosmos's black sky. Moses said she was able to leave her seat and take the view
"The earth was beautiful – super sharp, super-clear," she said, "with a beautiful view of the Pacific."
Unit landed back in Mojave about an hour after start.
The company's founder, British billionaire Richard Branson, has said he expects to board a Unity flight in July.
But it is not clear how many more test runs Galactic will fly before it is comfortable to pay customers on board. The company has said it still has "a way to go in testing the many factors that can affect an aircraft."
About 600 people have reserved tickets, priced between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000, to fly with Galactic.
New Adventure Tourism
Galactic is neck and neck with main competitor Jeff Bezos Blue Origin.
19659002] Companies have each spent more than a decade developing space tour technology. Both companies say they aim to open the business once a year. And both also insist that they do not race, but put "safety first."
But that does not mean that they are not competitive.
He referred to the fact that Blue Origin is planning to send passengers off the Karman line, which is 62 miles above Earth and internationally recognized as the boundary of space. Galactic, however, is focused on the 50-mile mark used in the United States.