LOS ANGELES Ė Virgin Galactic, Richard Bransonís space-tourism venture, reached the edge of space in a test flight Thursday, four years after a fatal accident set back the project, forced a reassessment of safety issues and roiled the growing commercial space industry.
Virgin Galactic launched the spaceplane called SpaceShip Two and its two pilots from a carrier aircraft cruising miles above Southern Californiaís Mojave desert. For around $200,000 a seat, the closely held company seeks to offer thrill rides featuring majestic views of the earth capped by a few minutes of weightlessness.
The launch also could provide momentum for nascent private efforts to blast tourists and small satellites into space using low-cost rockets and various other unconventional launch systems, the Dow Jones report added.
Virgin Galactic years ago led the way in sparking interest in the industry segment, considered to be the most promising and fastest-growing part of commercial space. But a Dec 2014 accident caused the company to assume a significantly lower profile.