Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip2 which was dropped from its "mothership", WhiteKnight2 over the Mojave, California area, at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor Photograph:( AFP )
Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, hopes to begin regular commercial suborbital flights in early 2022, with eventual plans for 400 trips a year
Space tourism company Virgin GalacticOrbit's LauncherOne rocket took seven satellites to orbit after being dropped mid-air from the underside of a modified Boeing 747 nicknamed Cosmic Girl.
The move presents an ideal opportunity for the company to flaunt its ambitions not only to send wealthy tourists on pleasure rides costing $200,000 or more, but also to advance science.
Earlier, the US Federal Aviation Administration approved the first commercial license to take consumers to space for Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, hopes to begin regular commercial suborbital flights in early 2022, with eventual plans for 400 trips a year.
The flights are far from the classic rocket experience, with a carrier plane taking off from a runway then dropping the spacecraft once in the air, which then ignites its engines.
The company is facing fierce competition in the field of private space exploration from Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Tesla Inc boss Elon Musk's SpaceX.
Branson, Bezos, and Musk have been investing billions of dollars on their rocket startups.
Virgin Galactic last month completed its first manned space flight from its new homeport in New Mexico in May, as its SpaceShipTwo craft with a capacity of six passengers glided to a landing on a runway safely with its two pilots.