Watch Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity Soar on 1st Powered Flight

SpaceShipTwo test flight

The SpaceShipTwo rocket plane is tucked beneath its White Knight Two mothership

Virgin Galactic's craft is created to carry a pair of pilots and up to six passengers who will eventually be able to pony up $250,000 for a trip into space.

Virgin Galactic has released the first images of the test flight, which are undeniably mind-blowing.

The hybrid rocket motor, which was designed, built and tested by The Spaceship Company, powered Unity through the transonic range and into supersonic flight before preparing for its return, Virgin said.

For the first time in about four years, Virgin Galactic has fired up the rocket motors in one of its spacecraft for a test flight. The carrier jet, piloted by Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile, climbed to an altitude of around 46,500 feet (about 14,200 meters) over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

This particular version of the spacecraft, dubbed SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, has performed seven glide tests since it was built in 2016.

The one-minute video shows the suborbital space plane, known as VSS Unity, drop from the mothership airplane that carried it into the skies over California's Mojave Desert, zoom even higher under its own rocket power and roll down the runway shortly after landing.

A ticket to ride the space plane now sells for $250,000.

The development of the VSS Unity spaceship is part of Branson's ambitious dream to fly paying tourists into space and let them enjoy the view of the Earth. The spaceship climbed steeply and went supersonic - Mach 1.87 - during the 30-second rocket burn.

"It also marks a key moment for the test flight programme, entering now the exciting phase of powered flight and the expansion to full duration rocket burns. While we celebrate that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead", the company stated in a release issued after the flight.

Virgin Galactic also imagines a fleet functioning from Spaceport the usa in New Mexico, also intends to provide flights for research and satellite deployment.

Other than the technical specifics of the flight, Virgin Galactic didn't say much yesterday. The flights come with a hefty starting price tag of $250,000, spokeswoman Christine Choi told Albuquerque Business First in late 2017.

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