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Virgin Galactic's second SpaceShipTwo, the VSS Unity, performed its first rocket-powered test flight over California's Mojave Desert on April 5, 2018.

Following the test flight, Branson declared on a tweet that Virgin Galactic is "back on track".

Richard Branson took to twitter and announced that "space seems tantalisingly close now" after the spacecraft's flight concluded successfully.

A rocket motor then accelerated Unity to Mach 1.87 during a 30-second rocket burn before the ship's two pilots shut it down. "Space feels tantalizingly close now".

Eventually, the company aims to conduct full-up tests to send Unity and its pilots to the edge of outer space, at altitudes that could range from 50 miles to 62 miles (100 kilometers) and beyond.

Over 700 guests, including celebrities Katy Perry and Brad Pitt, have already reserved a seat on one of Virgin Galactic's first flights for a cost of $250,000 (£200,000) a seat.

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A significant moment for the company and its sister manufacturing organisation, The Spaceship Company, this marks the first test since a fatal accident in 2014, in which a pilot was killed and the SS2 being tested was destroyed. The space plane had previously performed seven unpowered glide flights and four "captive carry" tests, in which it remained attached to the mothership, which is known as VMS Eve.

The spaceplane reached supersonic speeds before the engines cut off, and then it glided down for a safe landing at the company's spaceport back in Mojave.

A reusable space plane created to carry two pilots and up to six passengers (or research payloads) into suborbital space, the SS2 is Virgin Galactic's means for "transforming access to space", for paying customers and researchers, according to the company's vision statement.

After two years of "extensive ground and atmospheric testing", the step signals the start of the final part of Unity's test flight programme. While the company celebrates that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead. The test was not meant to reach the "boundary" of space, which is more than three times higher.

Unity is the first vehicle to be built from scratch for Virgin Galactic by The Spaceship Company's talented team of aerospace engineers and technicians.


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