Virgin Galactic completes final test flight from Spaceport America

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It’s been a long time coming, but we’re closer than ever to seeing Virgin Galactic launch commercial spaceflights from Spaceport America. The company held its final test flight Thursday, and reps say it was a success. 

There were cheers on the ground at New Mexico’s Spaceport America as Virgin Galactic mothership “Eve” took off just after 9 a.m. Thursday. Suspended under the mothership is Virgin Galactic’s spaceship “Unity.” 

Six people were on board Unity, including New Mexican native Jamila Gilbert. Video from inside the spacecraft shows the excitement as they were released from the mothership for their ascent to space. 

Virgin Galactic reports the craft went more than 54 miles up, passing the 50-mile boundary for space as set by NASA.  

There’s no audio on the video inside the spacecraft provided by Virgin Galactic. But the excitement of the crew members is clearly visible as they experience weightlessness, and view Earth from the edge of the space. 

Gilbert can be seen breaking into tears as she looks out the window of the craft.  

Virgin Galactic says with this flight it completed its final assessments of the mothership and spaceship. They also did an end-to-end evaluation of their astronaut training and the customer experience. 

Virgin Galactic reps say they plan to inspect the vehicles and review their flight data in the coming weeks.

“It’s only in the last couple of generations that we’ve been able to look back at Earth from space. Now we have our foot in the door, and with today’s flight closing out our test program, we’ll be able to push the door wide open for so many more people to step through,” said Colin Bennet, a Virgin Galactic astronaut instructor. 

The company plans to begin commercial flights in late June with the “Galactic 01” mission. 

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