[ Update: Here is a video released by Virgin Galactic with highlights of the flight:

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This morning two pilots for Virgin Galactic successfully flew SpaceShipTwo “Unity” to over 50 miles (82 km) in altitude.

While 100 km (62 miles) is held by many as the “official” boundary to space, the USAF and NASA have awarded space wings to X-15 pilots who flew above 50 miles. So C.J. Sturckow and Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky can reasonably claim they have been to space today.

Here is a view of the takeoff of WhiteKnightTwo “Eve” with the SS2 slung beneath it from Mojave Air & Space Port in southern California:

After reaching 42,000 feet (about 8 miles or 13 km), the SS2 dropped from the WK2 and the motor was fired:

Virgin Galactic hopes to begin flying paying customers to space in the coming year. The company actually made some money on today’s flight by carrying four experiments from NASA: Four NASA-Sponsored Experiments Set to Launch | NASA.

While this type of suborbital flight requires far less energy and velocity than required to reach orbit, developing a rocket powered vehicle that can routinely (eventually weekly and perhaps even daily) to such altitudes will be a tremendous technological achievement. It has taken VG over a decade to get a SS2 to space.

Will post videos of the SS2 flight when they become available.

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