Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo went supersonic over the Mojave desert during its first powered flight this morning, a major milestone for the company’s plans for commercial suborbital flights.
Sir Richard Branson’s spacecraft left the Mojave Air and Space Port in southern California on its first rocket powered flight not far from where the Bell X-1 piloted by the then Capt. Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in 1947. Today’s flight is a big step forward for Virgin Galactic and paves the way for its first suborbital space flight test later this year. It’s been more than eight years since Virgin Galactic’s space tourism program began, and though progress has come slower than planned, Branson was nevertheless enthusiastic about the flight test.