MOJAVE, Calif., March 22 (UPI) — SpaceShipTwo, the rocket plane being developed by Virgin Galactic for space tourism, flew for the first time Monday in California, the company said.
The craft — named the VSS Enterprise — was carried to an altitude of 50,000 feet in a flight originating at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Virgin said in a news release. In what it known as a captive-carry flight, SpaceShipTwo flew for almost 3 hours, supported by twin fuselages of WhiteKnightTwo.
In the next test, WhiteKnightTwo will release SpaceShipTwo and its pilot for a gliding flight and touchdown on the Mojave runway, MSNBC reported.
Virgin Galactic says it has collected an estimated $45 million in deposits for reservations from more than 330 people who want to travel to space.
The project — bankrolled by British entrepreneur Richard Branson — employs technology developed in part by Burt Rutan, whose Scaled Composites constructed the craft.
“This is a momentous day for the Scaled and Virgin Teams,” Rutan said in a statement. “The captive-carry flight signifies the start of what we believe will be extremely exciting and successful spaceship flight test program.”
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