News & Opinion | June 1, 2018 5:00 am

Virgin Galactic Is Getting Closer to Flying Tourists to Space

Richard Branson's company performed another test flight on Tuesday.

richard branson
Sir Richard Branson walks around the new Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo at its roll out in the Mojave Desert. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LA Times via Getty Images

Richard Branson and his company just got one more step closer to flying tourists to the edge of space and back with another completed test flight. Virgin Galactic, the company Branson founded more than a decade ago, performed the test flight over the Mojave Desert in California on Tuesday. SpaceShipTwo, Unity, a winged space plane, went supersonic for the second time, firing its engine for just 31 seconds, reports The Washington Post, which was enough time to get the ship to an altitude nearly of nearly 22 miles. The spaceship also hit a maximum speed of almost Mach 2, or twice the speed of sound.

Branson said that the pilots came back with “massive beams on their faces.” He called the test flight a “big, big step.” The company plans to have another in about six weeks or so. Virgin Galactic, which charges $250,000 a ticket, has about 700 people signed up to fly. Branson has said that he would be among the first to go. The 67-year-old has been preparing by cycling, playing tennis and spending time in a centrifuge to get his body used to additional gravitational forces.