Check out video highlights released by Virgin Galactic of Thursday’s test flight by the company’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane to an altitude of 271,000 feet (82.7 kilometers), above a boundary recognized by the U.S. government as the edge of space.
The air-dropped rocket plane took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California under a four-engine carrier jet shortly after 7 a.m. PST (10 a.m. EST; 1500 GMT) Thursday and climbed to an altitude of 43,000 feet (13,100 meters). Piloted by Mark “Forger” Stucky and Rick “C.J.” Sturckow, the SpaceShipTwo vehicle released from its mothership and fired a hybrid rocket motor nearly 60 seconds to accelerate to Mach 2.9 — nearly three times the speed of sound — and soar to an altitude of 51 miles.
It was the first time Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, intended to carry space tourists on brief hops to the edge of space, has flown above the 50-mile mark, a threshold recognized by the U.S. Air Force, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration as the boundary of space.
Read our full story for details on Thursday’s flight, and what it means for Virgin Galactic and the commercial space industry.
Additional video and photo highlights of Thursday’s flight are posted below.