Virgin Galactic made history (and space nerds' days) Monday when it sent its commercial spaceship on its first powered test flight over the Mojave desert.
The rocket, also known as SpaceShipTwo (SS2), was dropped from a twin-fuselage jet high above the desert north of Los Angeles at 7:50 this morning, and then ignited its supersonic engine for 16 seconds before landing safely.
"The rocket motor ignition went as planned, with the expected burn duration, good engine performance and solid vehicle handling qualities throughout," Virgin Galactic president and CEO George Whitesides said in a statement, SPACE.com reported, adding that the company plans to conduct several more powered flight tests before launching a test flight in space.
The company tweeted after the flight:
Pilots Stucky and Alsbury confirm: SpaceShipTwo exceeded the speed of sound on today’s flight! Photos, video, and details to follow
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) April 29, 2013
"It is a tremendous achievement and a testament to the hard work and meticulous preparation by everyone involved," Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson wrote on his blog.
"Like our hundreds of customers from around the world, my children and I cannot wait to get on board this fantastic vehicle for our own trip to space and am delighted that today’s milestone brings that day much closer," he added.
So...we'll see you in space?
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