May 23 (UPI) — Virgin Galactic completed its first successful space flight in more than two years Saturday.
“It was picture perfect,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier told The Verge after the flight was completed. “We’re gonna go through the data deeply and thoroughly as we always do.”
In a statement, Colglazier called the flight a “major step forward for both Virgin Galactic and human spaceflight in New Mexico,” which had never hosted a crewed test mission to space until Saturday.
The crewed VSS Unity spacecraft reached an altitude of more than 44,000 feet before gliding safely back to Earth.
Virgin’s VMS Eve carrier launched from Spaceport America in New Mexico at about 10:35 a.m. EDT with Unity onboard, then launched Unity once it had switched to its own battery power and conducted flight control and electrical checks.
The United States considers pilots who have flown above 80 kilometers to be astronauts.
Saturday’s trip is the latest step toward Virgin Galactic’s goal of creating a space tourism program.
The company has taken about 600 reservations for space flight tickets at a cost of $250,000 each.
The flight marked the first spaceflight from New Mexico, which is now the third U.S. state to launch humans into space.
The flight also carried research payloads for NASA’s Flight Opportunities program.