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Virgin Galactic completed the third test flight of its VSS Unity Space Shuttle over the Mojave Desert on Thursday, bringing space explorer billionaire Richard Branson one step closer to becoming the first customer in space.
After firing below the wing of its carrier plane at 46,500 feet, VSS Unity fired its rocket motor for 42 seconds to accelerate itself and its two pilots to Mach 2.47 or nearly two. And one and a half times the speed of sound, said Virgin Galactic in a blog post
The sleek vehicle reached an altitude of 1
VSS Unity climbed higher and faster than its second test flight on May 29, when it reached a speed of Mach 1.9 and climbed to an altitude of 114,500 feet.
"This was a new height record for both of us in the cockpit, not to mention our mannequin in the back, and the view of the earth from the black sky was great," said Virgin Galactic chief pilot Dave Mackay said in the post.
The machine's first test flight took place on April 5, four years after October 31, 2014, crash of another Virgin Galactic Spacecraft that Demanded the Life of Test Pilot Michael Alsbury
The new test was developed in part to get a better understanding of the passenger compartment environment, including temperatures, acceleration, vibration and other factors, according to the Post.
Along with Blue Galactic by Elon Musk SpaceX and Jeff Bezos, Virgin Galactic is one of the few companies intending to bring space tourists on short suborbital flights. The company did not specify when it will start commercial flights, although Branson said it could come sometime this year.
About 800 people have bought a ticket for a Virgin Galactic flight, Branson Bloomberg said in a recent interview. Do you want to buy one? They go for $ 250,000.
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