As space travel is gaining popularity, spaceflight company Virgin Galactic recently successfully landed the first rocket-powered flight. The aircraft, called Unity, reached supersonic speeds and has flown previously several times, but this is the first time it was a successful powered flight. Essentially, there is a big plane which carries the smaller Unity into the air, and then the Unity uses its own engine to fly. During this flight, the aircraft flew to a max altitude of over 80,000 feet in the sky, and accelerated to over 1430 miles per hour! Four years ago, Virgin Atlantic attempted a powered flight, but it resulted in a crash, leading to a fatality and an injury. On this recent flight, there were two people on board.
In the future, Virgin Galactic actually plans to send passengers willing to pay a hefty $250,000 up to space at around 60 miles above the Earth’s surface. Despite the big price tag, 700 customers have already signed up to be passengers. Although this flight did not quite go far into space, it is still monumental for the company as it means they can completely focus on rocket-powered flights. Virgin Galactic aims to improve access to space and possibly to help with travel within Earth. The founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson, has suggested that it is highly likely that Virgin Galactic will launch into space within the next few months. Virgin Galactic and Richard Branson have aspirations very similar to that of SpaceX and Elon Musk. Both companies are pushing the boundaries of space exploration and bringing it to everyone. It is interesting to see which company will first have passengers who paid for a flight brought to space. Additionally, we are curious to see if any other companies join the push to advance space travel, and how far companies like Virgin Galactic will push space exploration.