Aerospace & Defense

SpaceShipTwo makes 2nd supersonic test flight

Flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo over the Mojave Desert, Sept. 5, 2013 captured by MARS.
Source: and Clay Center Observatory

Virgin Galactic says it successfully conducted a second rocket-powered, supersonic test flight of the passenger spaceship it is developing.

The craft dubbed SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of 69,000 feet over California's Mojave Desert early Thursday after it was dropped from a carrier aircraft and its rocket was ignited for a 20-second burn.

Two pilots and a flight test engineer were aboard as the craft reached a maximum speed of Mach 1.43, then glided to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port.

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Both the altitude and speed exceeded marks set during the first rocket-powered flight last April.

Virgin Galactic plans to take paying passengers on suborbital flights that briefly enter space. The commercial spaceline is owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's aabar Investments PJS.

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