Today's test puts Virgin back on track toward Branson's goal of shuttling paying tourists on short trips into suborbital space. At 45,600 feet, the Unity was released, at which point it climbed upwards at 80 degrees in a Mach 1.87 climb. The spaceship reached 84,000 feet (25,000 m) before making a smooth runway landing, the company said. At over 320,000 feet - 100kms or 62 miles - a flight is considered to have reached outer space even if it does not make a complete orbit.
Virgin Galactica's aim of space tours has a pricetag of £250,000, however the company has not officially revealed a deadline for its very first customer flights, even the LosAngeles Times reported. The flight successfully broke the sound barrier but did not travel far enough to hit space, Quartz reported.
Neither pilot commanded the feathering mechanism to engage, but strong aerodynamic forces caused the feather's two booms to rotate into their re-entry positions once they were unlocked, leading to the vehicle's disintegration. The agency later faulted that spaceship's builder, Scaled Composites, saying the design should have protected against human error.
The craft christened VSS Unity has taken flight a dozen times since its debut in February 2016, but the previous 11 tests didn't involve lighting up the plane's hybrid rocket motor.
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At first, things didn't seem easy for Gururaja as he failed to lift the weight of 138 kg in the first two attempts. Guernsey's Josh Lewis said he was unhappy with his performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games triathlon.
VSS Unity's flight was a "big step forward", the company said.
The tail booms are famous because "feathers" because their function has been likened to the feathers of the badminton shuttlecock. "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".
The space tourism company said in a statement: "The flight has generated valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance which our engineers will be reviewing". Virgin Galactic's promised passengers or scientists "Exposure to several minutes of high quality microgravity per flight" on each launch.
"Space feels tantalizingly close now", he added.