A Thumbs Up For the Next Step in Space Tourism

"Objectives achieved" for Virgin Galactic

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Sir Richard Branson gestures to reporters as Virgin Galactic unveils its new SpaceShipTwo at the Mojave Spaceport.

    Virgin Galactic's new space tourism rocket made its virgin voyage with a crew on board. The spaceship, complete with a two-man crew, took its joy flight over the California desert.

    Virgin Galactic announced Thursday's flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port on its website. In a statement, the company congratulated the crew and said "Objectives achieved."

    The company said the crewmembers on board evaluated all of the spaceship's systems and functions during the six-hour, 12-minute flight.

    The spaceship remained attached to the specially designed jet-powered mothership throughout the flight.

    It's the second generation of the Burt Rutan-designed system that sent the first privately developed, manned rocket into space on June 21, 2004.

    Virgin Galactic says the flight test program will run through 2011 before commercial operations begin.