Virgin Galactic moves a step closer to space tourism with a successful test launch

Your vacation in outer space just got another step closer. Virgin Galactic just executed a successful test run of their newest spaceship design.

The test took place out in the Mojave desert late last week and saw the VSS Unity spaceship complete what is known as a “captive carry” flight with another aircraft, according to the LA Times.

Prior to this test, the Long Beach-based space-tourism startup last tested a launch back in 2014. After 54 safe tests, that final launch ended in a tragic crash resulting in the death of one of the test pilots. Testing had been suspended while the company overhauled the manufacturing and design of the spaceships and, naturally, tensions were extremely high going into this first test of the new craft.  

Due to the safety concerns, this first test was a run-through of an “abort mode” emergency procedure, demonstrating how the spacecraft could safely be brought back into the airport were the crew to encounter any problems during the dangerous lift-off phase. Having proven capable of that, the next round of launches will see Virgin testing how the Unity glides on her own upon release from the carrier aircraft.

If all goes according to plan, Virgin Galactic will be taking regular people on space tourism adventures in the foreseeable future. If you’re planning on making the trip, you might want to start dropping pennies in your change jar now—a ticket on one of the VSS Unity’s eventual flights is likely to run around $250,000.

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