6 September 2013
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo achieved supersonic speeds during its second powered test on Thursday. The vehicle achieved a speed of Mach 1.43 in a flight over the Mojave Desert, another key milestone toward its goal of launching tourists into space sometime next year. During the test, SpaceShipTwo was taken to about 46,000 feet by a carrier aircraft, and nearly one hour into the flight, it was dropped. After a short free fall, pilot Mark Stucky and co-pilot Clint Nichols engaged the hybrid rocket motor for 20 seconds. SpaceShipTwo blasted to Mach 1.43, reaching about 56,000 feet in altitude. The rocket plane flew solo for nearly 30 minutes, making a smooth landing in Mojave about 9:25 a.m. (Image Credit: Virgin Galactic)
More Info >  (The Los Angeles Times)