Virgin Galactic have successfully launched their rocket-powered SpaceShipTwo in their first rocket-powered flight since the 2014 crash that killed one pilot.
The spacecraft, VSS Unity, reached 1.87 times the speed of sound on a supersonic test flight after being launched from its White Knight 2 mothership.
The new model spaceship features safety upgrades implemented after the 2014 crash when the co-pilot opened the tail booms too early, resulting in the ship breaking apart.
“The flight has generated valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance which our engineers will be reviewing,” a statement on the Virgin website read.
“It also marks a key moment for the test flight program, entering now the exciting phase of powered flight and the expansion to full duration rocket burns.”
“While we celebrate that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead.”
Virgin plans to commercialise low-orbit space flight, taking passengers up to look at earth from a distance, as well as offering flights for research and satellite deployment.