Virgin Galactic tourism rocket reaches space

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Virgin Galactic's latest test flight managed to successfully launch a tourism rocket ship into space for the very first time - prompting an emotional Branson to do a little cry.

Bringing NASA on as a customer made Thursday's flight the first revenue-earning mission for Virgin Galactic.

Two pilots, a mannequin named Annie as a stand-in for a passenger and four research payloads for NASA were on board the flight.

British business magnate and founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, has said that a hard Brexit would be disastrous for the United Kingdom and would force many british business to close, leaving the country "near bankrupt".

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One Virgin Galactic goal is to create a business model that quickly reuses the spacecraft for space tourism.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced yesterday that pilots Mark "Forger" Stucky and Frederick "CJ" Sturckow will be presented FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings at a celebratory event in Washington DC next year.

Sir Richard Branson also spoke about the darker moments faced by the Virgin Galactic project, namely the fatal crash in 2014, saying that sadly it was an "unexplainable test pilot error" rather than a technical issue, so on this basis they decided not to give up on the project.

Regardless of whether SS2 reached "space" today, the flight marks an achievement that has been more than a decade in the making and moves Richard Branson's company one step closer to flying passengers on suborbital flights. The mission started like many past test flights. Virgin Galactic has received about $80 million in deposits from future astronauts, Branson said. Sir Richard is in a race with Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos to send the first fee-paying passengers into space. The spaceship's motor burned for 60 seconds, travelling at 2.9 times the speed of sound. "Today we get to enjoy the fact we have put people into space before anybody else", Mr Branson said. Tickets will be offered ahead of the first commercial launch, and test flights with Blue Origin employees are expected to begin in 2019.

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VSS Unity's peak altitude of 51.4 miles is similar to what Virgin Galactic has planned for commercial flights.

"Many of you will know how important the dream of space travel is to me personally", said Branson after the successful space flight.

The tragedy spurred critics of space tourism who have deemed such projects irresponsibly risky. The spacecraft touched back down in Mojave about 1.5 hours after takeoff, completing the historic flight. The company has more than 600 citizen astronauts signed on to launch.

Reportedly, Bezos pumps almost $1 billion a year from his Amazon holdings into Blue Origin, a rocket-building company that last tested the New Shepard rocket 322, 405 feet above earth last April.

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"From our Virgin companies' point of view, a hard Brexit would torpedo some of our companies", he said.