On April 5th, 2018, Virgin Galactic, part of the Virgin Group, successfully tested their space shuttle under its own power, proving that commercial space travel is possible and will be profitable in the near future.
The company was founded in 2004 and after 14 years of designing and testing, including one fatal flight in 2014, VSS Unity made a successful trial.
“When the rocket motor is lit, that’s when it really comes alive. We’ve been gliding it [the spacecraft] so far, but really, what it’s designed to do is go into space.”-David Mackay | Chief Test Pilot
VSS Unity is a SpaceShipTwo-class suborbital rocket-powered spaceplane manufactured from 2012 to 2016. After several glide flights to test it structurally after being dropped by its mothership, White Knight Two, it finally made its first powered flight.
Reaching an altitude of 84,272 ft at Mach 1.87, the aircraft returned to the airstrip and landed without a hitch. The owner, Richard Bronson, stated that the program will be fully operational soon with seats costing $250,000 USD and up.