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An exciting step forward in the space tourism race for Richard Branson. Virgin Galactic successfully tested its passenger rocket on Thursday, SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity passed over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. It's been three years since the fatal crash of an earlier version of the ship. It broke apart on a test fly, killing one of its two pilots and delivering an enormous explode of Virgin Galactic's ambitions.
This time, the two new pilots achieve supersonic speed at 2,500 meters, before shutting down the engine and gliding safety back to base. Branson took to Twitter to say the test success put his mission back on track, and that space now feels tantalizingly close.>>
>> Virgin Galactic was granted a license in 2016.
Meaning once final safety tests are completed, it can officially fly the world's first paying space tourists.>> All of us in this room need to pinch ourselves. Come on, let's just pinch ourselves.
Though there's no start date for flights, tickets are on sale. You can reserve a seat aboard SpaceShipTwo for $250,000.
Competition is big.
en it comes to putting people in orbit, governments hold monopoly, in particular the US, China, and Russia. Then there's Elon Musk. In February, his SpaceX mission successfully launched Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket, designed and built by a private company. And there's Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
He has his own private space company, too, Blue Origin. It could all mean that a major turning point in human space exploration, like reaching Mars, may well be under the flag of a private enterprise.