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Virgin Galactic completes second test flight ahead of commercial launch

The test flight "marks another important milestone as the team progresses toward the launch of Virgin Galactic’s commercial service", the company said

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc -

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE:SPCE) has completed a second test flight ahead of beginning powered spaceflights from its Spaceport America base in New Mexico.

The test flight, following the first flight from its commercial headquarters on May 1, saw its SpaceShipTwo craft, also known as VSS Unity, achieved a glide speed of Mach 0.85 after being released from the mothership VMS Eve at an altitude of 51,000 ft.

READ: Richard Branson plans to sell down Virgin Galactic stake to save other businesses

With space pilots Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Michael ‘Sooch’ Masucci at the controls, Unity then completed multiple test objectives before touching back down smoothly for a runway landing at Spaceport America.

Earlier this month, the Richard Branson-founded company signed a Space Act agreement with NASA to encourage commercial participation in flights to the International Space Station (ISS).

The second test flight "marks another important milestone as the team progresses toward the launch of Virgin Galactic’s commercial service", the company said.

"Pending the completion of an extensive data review of this flight, the team will start preparing for the next stage of our flight test program - powered spaceflights from Spaceport America." 

Engineers need to make final modifications need to be made to customer cabin as well as detailed inspections of the vehicle and systems, Virgin Galactic said.

 

Founded by Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic became the first publicly listed space tourism company last year after its US$1.5bn merger with New York-listed cash shell Social Capital Hedosophia.

Branson and other selling equity owners of Virgin Galactic received US$1.3bn, including US$1bn of stock of the combined company and up to US$300mln in cash. 

The Virgin billionaire said last month he would sell around US$0.5bn of his stake in Virgin Galactic in order to pump funds into his troubled airline Virgin Atlantic. 

Shares were up 5% in pre-market trading to around US$16.

Quick facts: Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc

Price: 28.74 USD

NYSE:SPCE
Market: NYSE
Market Cap: $6.74 billion
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