Space vehicle SpaceShipTwo took to the skies above Mojave on Thursday for its second rocket-powered supersonic flight as part of testing prior to taking up paying passengers.
The 90-minute morning flight took the aircraft to an altitude of 69,000 feet and a maximum speed of Mach 1.43. SpaceShipTwo made its first rocket-fired flight in April and reached 55,000 feet and Mach 1.2.
The sub-orbital vehicle is operated by Virgin Galactic, the space tourism business of British billionaire Richard Branson. Additional sub-orbital space vehicles are being made by Spaceship Co., a Virgin Galactic subsidiary, at the Mojave Air & Space Port.
“Each powered flight of SpaceShipTwo yields cumulative progress that builds the foundation for safe and exciting commercial space flights,” said Virgin Galactic Chief Executive George Whitesides in a prepared statement.
Passenger flights aboard the space vehicles will take place from Spaceport America in New Mexico.