Following a test flight accident in 2014 that killed one of the pilots, Virgin Galactic has now announced that it has successfully test-flown its new spaceship. The flight took off from an air and space port in California, lasted nearly four hours over the Mojave desert while reaching a maximum altitude of around 15,000 meters and landed back, the company said in a blog post.
“Today marks an exciting milestone in our shared quest to open space to change the world for good,” the company said. According to the company, the test was a “captive carry” as the SpaceshipTwo craft, or the VSS Unity, stayed attached to its carrier, WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, for the entire flight.
The six-passenger, two-pilot winged space plane has been designed to take passengers on five-minute voyages into suborbital space. The flight was operated by four test pilots — two in SpaceShipTwo and two were on the carrier. ALSO READ: Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson wants to send loads of Internet-satellites into space to enable global connectivity
The aim of the flight was to capture “high fidelity aerodynamic performance data” on the vehicle, while allowing the teams to gain further experience operating a crewed flight. It has been two years since the original SpaceShipTwo was destroyed in 2014 during a deadly test flight that killed one of its two pilots and seriously injured the other.
“Our first flight test was an emotional and fulfilling moment for our hardworking team,” Virgin Galactic said. More test flights and analysis are planned before the spaceship starts to take passengers to space.
Photo – Fortune