Virgin Galactic completes second test flight ahead of commercial launch

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE:SPCE) has completed a second test flight ahead of beginning powered spaceflights from its Spaceport America base in New Mexico.

The test flight, following the first flight from its commercial headquarters on May 1, saw its SpaceShipTwo craft, also known as VSS Unity, achieved a glide speed of Mach 0.85 after being released from the mothership VMS Eve at an altitude of 51,000 ft.

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With space pilots Mark Forger Stucky and Michael Sooch Masucci at the controls, Unity then completed multiple test objectives before touching back down smoothly for a runway landing at Spaceport America.

Earlier this month, the Richard Branson-founded company signed a Space Act agreement with NASA to encourage commercial participation in flights to the International Space Station (ISS).

The second test flight "marks another important milestone as the team progresses toward the launch of Virgin Galactics commercial service", the company said.

"Pending the completion of an extensive data review of this flight, the team will start preparing for the next stage of our flight test program – powered spaceflights from Spaceport America."

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