Virgin Galactic launches its first commercial flight to space

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic launched its first commercial space flight Thursday, sending three Italian researchers, two company pilots and an astronaut trainer on a high-speed thrill ride to the edge of space aboard a winged rocketplane. The crew experienced about three minutes of weightlessness. Total time between air launch and landing: just under 14 minutes.


First hot-fire test of Europe’s reusable methane-fueled Prometheus rocket engine

Europe successfully completed the first hot-fire test of its reusable Prometheus rocket on June 22, a 12-second burn while integrated to the Themis first-stage demonstrator at the ArianeGroup site in Vernon, France. Prometheus and Themis are components of the new ‘Ariane Next’ European launch program, which is focused on developing a fleet of reusable rockets to enter service in the 2030s.

Delta 4

ULA’s Delta rocket assembly line falls silent

United Launch Alliance has closed its Delta rocket assembly line in Alabama after the 389th and last Delta rocket rolled out of the factory for the journey to its launch base in Florida, clearing real estate in ULA’s sprawling manufacturing center for the next-generation Vulcan launch vehicle.