Thumbs up for astronauts: Branson on Virgin Galactic's voyage into space

AFP
Mojave, CA, USA Updated: Dec 14, 2018, 11:09 AM(IST)

Virgin Galactic's SpaceshipTwo takes off for a suborbital test flight of the VSS Unity. Photograph:( AFP )

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'Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space,' Branson said in a statement afterward.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, flew higher than it ever has before on Thursday, surpassing what the US Air Force considers the boundary of space, and marking the first manned flight to space from US soil since 2011.

''Today really has been out of this world. It's a thumbs up for our astronauts,'' Richard Branson said.

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Virgin Galactic

The brief, suborbital flight -- with two pilots on board -- was a key milestone for the company headed by British tycoon Richard Branson, who is striving to send tourists to space at a cost of $250,000 per seat.

No spacecraft with people on board has taken off from US soil since the American space shuttle program ended, as scheduled, seven years ago.

"Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space," Branson said in a statement afterward.

"This is a momentous day and I could not be more proud of our teams who together have opened a new chapter of space exploration."

Virgin Galactic's spaceship did not launch on a rocket but took off attached to an airplane from Mojave, California.

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