Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo completes 2nd powered flight

Billionaire Richard Branson's planned commercial spacecraft had a successful test flight Thursday, rocketing into the skies over California after being dropped from its carrier plane, his company announced.

Branson's Virgin Galactic said SpaceShipTwo broke the sound barrier, climbed from 42,000 feet to 69,000 feet over the Mojave Desert under rocket power and descended using its tilt-wing "feathering" maneuver. It's the second powered flight for SpaceShipTwo, which is designed to carry up to six passengers on what will be suborbital flights at first.

"In addition to achieving the highest altitude and greatest speed to date, the test flight demonstrated the vehicle's full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time ... All of the test objectives were successfully completed," the company said.
In a video showing highlights of Thursday's test flight, Branson said Virgin Galactic plans to start taking passengers aloft in 2014


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