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Virgin Galactic reaches for the stars

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Danielle Kruger
Danielle Kruger
Daniëlle is an IT and tech journalist focused on gaming, gadgets and emerging technologies in a number of key industries.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic recently had a successful test flight, flying to the edge of space and back at a height of 82.7km. The SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship took off from the Mojave Desert in California on Thursday, December 13, 2018. The ship was piloted by two pilots and carried a stand-in passenger mannequin named Annie and four research experiments for NASA.

This was the SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket ship’s fourth test flight in a race that aims to send the first fee-paying passengers into space. After a few earlier setbacks in Virgin Galactic’s space programme, the plane managed to surpass the altitude at which US agencies have awarded astronaut wings. The flight did not, however, breach the 100km Karman Line, a perimeter that many organisations use to resolve debates about where exactly space begins and ends.

Sir Richard Branson founded the commercial spaceflight company in 2004, shortly after Elon Musk started SpaceX and Jeff Bezos established Blue Origin, the only two other competitors in the commercial space travel market.

Virgin Galactic first promised sub-orbital spaceflight trips for tourists back in 2008, claiming that the first trips would be happening “within 18 months”. Those promises have yet to come to fruition, but it hasn’t stopped the company from making similar promises about realising commercial space flights for passengers in the near future.

By Daniëlle Kruger
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  1. Not nearly as impressive and technologically advanced as Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon rockets’ auto return. They have a lot of catching up to do if they want to even say they are still in the race.

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