By Ariel Scotti / December 17, 2018

Virgin Galactic Test Flight Successfully Reached Space

The company is one step closer to space tourism.

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity comes in for a landing after its suborbital test flight on December 13, 2018, in Mojave, California. (GENE BLEVINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Virgin Galactic launched a spacecraft more than 50 miles high on Thursday, reaching the Federal Aviation Administration’s definition of space.

The flight didn’t reach orbit but was the first from U.S. soil with humans on board to reach the edge of space since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011, The Washington Post reported. It brings the company one step closer to achieving its founder’s — Richard Branson — goal of flying tourists into space. 

Virgin Galactic also edged out competitors like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Boeing when SpaceShipTwo was ferried to an altitude of about 43,000. 

“It’s been 14 long years to get here,” Branson said to reporters after the launch, according to WaPo. “We’ve had tears, real tears, and moments of joy. So the tears today were tears of joy. It was maybe tears of relief as well. When you are in the test flight program of a space company you can never be completely 100 percent sure.”

Virgin Galactic currently has over 700 people —who have paid as much as $250,000 — signed up and waiting for their own chance to touch the edge of space. 

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