Virgin Galactic spaceplane makes it to space

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Virgin Galactic passed a major milestone today as the company's VSS Unity Spaceplane officially made it into space.

Today is the first time in Virgin Galactic's 14 years of operation that they have sent a spacecraft past the 50 mile boundary which the US Air Force defines as the edge of space.

Previously the highest a Virgin spacecraft as flown was 32 miles (52 kilometres) into the air, today it flew over double that up to a height of 51.4 miles (82.7 kilometres) also reaching a top speed of Mach 2.9. Virgin Galactic claims the VSS Unity is capable of flying even higher in the future by extending their main engine burn past 60 seconds which it burned today.

The end goal for Virgin Galactic is to launch paying passengers from Spaceport America located in New Mexico, up into space and allowing them to experience a few minutes of weightlessness while viewing the curvature of the earth.

Spaceport America

Spaceport America

Tickets aboard the VSS Unity cost $250,000, but according to Virgin Galactic, they have already sold hundreds of tickets for the future flights.

It's unknown when precisely those passengers will make it to space. Virgin Galactic had hoped to start bringing paying passengers into space in 2009, but almost ten years later and they still have not done so.

In 2014 Virgin Galactic suffered a significant setback as their Spaceship One called the VSS Enterprise crashed killing both pilots.