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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Virgin Galactic will send tourists into space within MONTHS...

•, By Harry Pettit

The test, which comes more than three years since the firm's fatal crash, saw the craft manoeuvre safely to the ground from an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,000m).

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has claimed VSS Unity, the second version of the company's SpaceShipTwo, will take people on suborbital test flights by April.

So far, more than 700 affluent customers, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin's space trips, with commercial flights planned for the end of the year.

Founded in 2010 with the aim of taking paying customers to space and back again, tragedy struck Virgin Galactic in 2014 when a catastrophic SpaceShipTwo test flight crash killed one pilot and seriously injured another.

It took two years for the company to regain approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly SpaceShipTwo again.

Yesterday's glide test, VSS Unity's seventh, saw the craft sent up from California's Mojave Air and Space Port attached to a twin-fuselage White Knight carrier airplane.

Once the pair reached 50,000ft (15,000m), Unity was released for an unpowered descent back to the spaceport.