Richard Branson: commercial space travel 'tantalisingly close'

Richard Branson: commercial space travel 'tantalisingly close'

Richard Branson says Virgin Galactic is 'back on track'

Friday, April 6, 2018

Sir Richard Branson says commercial space travel is "tantalisingly close" after a successful rocket test.

The billionaire entrepreneur declared Virgin Galactic "back on track" after the successful flight of the spaceship Unity.

The spacecraft was carried to an altitude of 46,500 feet by its mothership before it was released over California's Mojave Desert yesterday (April 5).

Virgin Galactic said the spacecraft achieved supersonic speed before gliding back down to the ground.

The test was the firm's first powered flight since its original spaceship crashed in 2014, leaving one pilot dead.

Unity has previously flown on test flights in which it glided without lighting the rocket.

Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, tweeted: "@virgingalactic back on track. Successful powered flight, Mach 1.6. Data review to come, then on to the next flight. Space feels tantalisingly close now."

The company said in a statement: "The flight has generated valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance which our engineers will be reviewing.

"It also marks a key moment for the test flight programme, entering now the exciting phase of powered flight and the expansion to full duration rocket burns.

"While we celebrate that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead."