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Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise makes maiden test flight

Virgin Galactic VSS Enterprise First Flight over Mojave, CA. A Virgin Galactic photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise, the world's first manned commercial spaceship, has successfully completed the captive carry flight from Mojave Air and Spaceport.

The Space vehicle made a 2-hour, 54-minute flight on Monday attached to the wing of its carrier aircraft, the WhiteKnightTwo, according to a media report.

"This very first captive carry was a huge success and both the mothership and spaceship looked absolutely stunning against the blue back drop of the Mojave skies," a company statement said.

The VSS Enterprise test flight programme will continue through 2010 and 2011, progressing from captive carry to independent glide and then powered flight, prior to the start of commercial operations, it added.

The spaceship has been designed to take many thousands of private astronauts into space. The vehicle could carry up to 6 passenger astronauts and up to 2 pilot astronauts into space on a sub-orbital flight.

Virgin Galactic plans to start flying customers aboard the craft on a regular basis after completion of up to 100 test flights.

According to designers, the spaceship will take passengers to an altitude of 110 km (68.3 miles) after being dropped from its carrier at an altitude of about 50,000 feet (16 km).

The 2.5-hour flight will feature a five-minute period of weightlessness, when passengers will be able to release themselves from their seats and float around the cabin.

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