The first rocket-powered flight of SpaceShipTwo lasted mere seconds, but getting it there took hours.
Monday's successful powered flight of SpaceShipTwo was a major milestone for Virgin Galactic and its founder, Sir Richard Branson. More than 500 people hold tickets for a sub-orbital flight to the edge of space, and the supersonic test flight took them all one step closer to the day they'll take flight. There's still a lot of work to be done, and the team at Scaled Composites building and testing the hardware for Branson will make many more flights as it expands and defines the flight envelope of the spacecraft.
Monday's flight was made early in the day to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and lighter winds common to Mojave at that hour. Long before the sun rose over the desert, the crew started its pre-flight briefing and final preparations of SpaceShipTwo. Virgin Galactic photographer Mark Greenberg supplied us with behind-the-scenes photos of the Scaled crew at work. We've also got an updated video of the 16 second powered flight with several new views, including from the mother ship as SpaceShipTwo is released from WhiteKnightTwo and rockets away.