Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo has performed its first free flight, a glide test which starts the next phase of testing the aircraft.
SpaceShipTwo, which is named VSS Unity took off with its carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo from Mojave Air and Space Port in California on Saturday.
VSS Unity separated from the carrier aircraft after about 50 minutes in the air, then gliding back for around 10 minutes to a runway landing, according to company updates.
The aircraft is ultimately being designed to carry tourists and researchers to an altitude of 100 kilometres and expose them to microgravity.
Various attempts have previously been made to conduct the free flight, however issues such as high winds have caused the practices to be cancelled.
After a series of free flights to test the vehicle’s aerodynamic performance, Virgin Galactic plan to move on to powered flights.
They have conducted powered flights before with the first SpaceShipTwo, however on the fourth test it crashed, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury and injuring the pilot Peter Siebold.