Virgin Galactic, the Virgin Group company planning to offer brief sub-orbital space-tourism trips, completed the second rocket-powered test of its reusable spaceflight vehicle on September 5, 2013.
The vehicle, Virgin SpaceShipTwo, reportedly achieved its highest altitude and greatest speed during the flight.
It also demonstrated high altitude deployment of its wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism that will allow the vehicle to safely re-enter the atmosphere.
Virgin Galactic is pre-selling suborbital trips, priced at $200,000 per person, in the United States through more than 100 Certified Space Agents. It claims to have sold 530 trips so far.
Virgin Galactic expects to launch commercial brief sub-orbital trips, complete with up to 6 minutes of weightlessness, in 2014. The company is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS.