Virgin Galactic test flight presses for space
Virgin Galactic flew its space plane near the edge of space Friday morning on its quest to eventually fly paying passengers there, but it was unclear whether the craft actually reached space.
The flight came two months after Virgin Galactic hit an altitude of 51.4 miles, reaching space for the first time, a historic milestone for which its pilots were awarded astronaut wings by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Friday’s flight reached a height of at least 240,000 feet, or 45.4 miles, which does not meet the FAA’s definition of space.
However the company did not announce the flight’s top altitude.
The launch came as the company looked to further test the outer limits of the space plane before it starts flying the hundreds of tourists who have signed up to pay as much as $250,000 a ticket.
Virgin Galactic has yet to hit what’s known as the Karman line, the 62-mile boundary that many consider to be the edge of space. In comments this week, Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin space venture also intends to fly tourists on suborbital trips to space took a swipe at his competitor.
Bezos owns The Washington Post.
Blue Origin, which has not announced how much it would charge its passengers, would fly above 62 miles, he said, “because we didn’t want there to be any asterisks next to your name about whether you’re an astronaut or not.”
Virgin Galactic officials have pointed to the fact that the FAA and other federal government agencies have defined space as beginning at 50 miles.
Virgin Galactic’s flight Friday reached a height of at least 240,000 feet, or 45.4 miles.