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Virgin Galactic: YOU could soon go to space after Virgin completes monumental milestone

Known as the VSS Unity, the Virgin Galactic spaceship safely landed in New Mexico on Friday (May 1) after completing a glide flight. The company stated it considered this step a major milestone in its bid for commercial flights, which could begin as early as this year.

More test flights are needed before it is able to make its business offerings open to the general public.

Virgin Galactic hopes to take paying customers to the edge of space, where they will be able to experience zero gravity as well as a stunning view of Earth.

To achieve such a feat in these challenging times was even more astonishing, according to Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides.

He said: "I am grateful for the commitment displayed by everyone involved, not only in helping to support relief efforts in both New Mexico and California, but also for the dedication and creativity which will allow us to continue safely towards our goal of commercial launch."

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Virgin Galactic: YOU could soon go to space after Virgin completes monumental milestone (Image: VIRGIN GALACTIC)

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Virgin said spaceflights could happen this year (Image: VIRGIN GALACTIC)

Virgin Galactic said the craft reached speeds of Mach 0.7 - Mach 1 is the speed of sound or 343 metres per second.

Virgin Galactic will get people into space using slightly different means than the likes of NASA and SpaceX.

No rocket will be required for launch, instead, the VSS Unity will launch as normal and carry another vessel.

When the airplane reaches space, the vessel will detach and propel itself higher in altitude before both crafts return to Earth – albeit at different times.

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The VSS travelled at a speed of Mach 0.7 (Image: VIRGIN GALACTIC)

Describing the test, Virgin Atlantic said: "The flight took off from the Spaceport America runway, with VSS Unity attached to the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve.

"The vehicles climbed to an altitude of 50,000ft before Unity was released, at which point VSS Unity flew freely for the first time in New Mexico airspace.

"The spaceship achieved a glide speed of Mach 0.70 and completed multiple test-points, before touching back down smoothly for a runway landing at Spaceport America.

"This test flight was conducted under a set of stringent operational protocols to ensure safety against COVID-19. Its successful execution was made possible by a concerted effort to redesign all the operational elements required for safe flight test while meeting new health and wellness protocols.

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The VSS Unity (Image: VIRGIN GALACTIC)

"These protocols include changes to the work areas and procedures to enforce social distancing as advised by state guidelines as well as universal mask usage."

Up to six passengers will be able to take a ride on the plane, according to Virgin Galactic.

However, tickets are not cheap and come at a hefty price.

Seats are initially being sold for $ 250,000 (£196,000) apiece, and customers are able to place a fully refundable deposit of $ 1,000 on the company's website.

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