Virgin Galactic, a US-based spaceflight services company, has completed its final test flight before it begins taking paying customers to space. The flight carried two NASA researchers to an altitude of more than 55 miles above the Earth’s surface, which is considered the edge of space. The flight served as a functional test of the vehicle’s technical capabilities and another important step towards providing regular access to space for private individuals.
The company has already sold tickets for suborbital passenger flights to space, however, the cost starts at $250,000 per seat. The test flight was conducted by Virgin Galactic’s passenger-carrying spacecraft, called SpaceShipTwo, and it was dropped by its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, from an altitude of 50,000 feet. The spaceship then accelerated towards the edge of space before the two pilots glided it back to the surface of the Mojave Desert in California after nearly a 2-hour flight.