Virgin Galactic's supersonic space plane has officially reached space successfully! The spacecraft first soared into the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere this past Thursday for what is being referred to as a "milestone test flight." This huge stepping stone means that the company is getting closer and closer to eventually being able to send tourists into space!
There are major moves happening in the world of science and technology, including space discovery, and this is adding to the list of great accomplishments! According to CNN, the rocket-powered plane, called the VSS Unity, was flown by two veteran pilots up to a maximum altitude of 51.4 miles, which actually surpassed the 50-mile mark record that the United States government recognized as the edge of space!
The test flight itself took off from the Mojave Air & Space Port in California, where they "blasted off" at exactly 7:11 am PT. It took up until 8:00 am PT for the VSS Unite to completely detach from the mothership and lit its rocket engine, allowing it to continue on its flight upward. Enrico Palermo, president of The Spaceship Company, first broke the news of the spacecraft reaching space in a statement released Thursday morning, claiming how: "We made it to space!" he said in celebration.
The founder of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, was visibly emotional upon the news of the successful mission, claiming how this event is truly monumental. Branson spoke to reporters shortly after, saying how after this flight, it meant that "myself and thousands of other people like me, could soon see space for themselves," he said.
Due to the success of this Virgin Galactic project, the two pilots who participated in the flight will be honored and awarded commercial astronaut wings from the US Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial space travel. This is a massive feat in the world of space, however, it goes without saying that these two men played a major role in allowing the mission to not only be a possible one but a successful one too. Although sending just about anyone to space won't happen for some time, the successful mission of the VSS Unity puts us one step closer to it becoming a reality.