Monday, October 11, 2010

Virgin's Space Tourism Rocket Achieves First Solo Glide Flight

MOJAVE, California -- Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo achieved its first solo glide flight Sunday, marking another step in the company's eventual plans to fly paying passengers.

SpaceShipTwo was carried aloft by its mothership to an altitude of 45,000 feet and released over the Mojave Desert. After the separation, SpaceShipTwo, manned by two pilots, flew freely for 11 minutes before landing at an airport runway followed by the mothership.

The entire test flight lasted about 25 minutes.

"It flew beautifully," said Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides

The six-passenger SpaceShipTwo is undergoing rigorous testing before it can carry tourists to space. In the latest test, SpaceShipTwo did not fire its rocket engine to climb to space.

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