rocket Virgin Galactic With two pilots on board, it flies higher than ever, surpassing what the US Army sees as the boundaries of space and becoming the first manned flight since 2011 that leaves US soil.
The United States has not sent anyone into space since the space shuttle program's termination NASA In 2011, and uses Russian Soyuz missiles to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
Since then, private companies trying to build vehicles capable of sending astronauts into space are fighting a commercial fight.
In this confrontation, Virgin Galactic crossed an important stage Thursday when its VSS Uniti device managed to reach a height of 82.7 km.
VSS Unity does not take off directly from Earth, Was transferred by a cargo plane that left the Mohyave Spaceport, California, and after being released, two pilots on its deck began the engine and set a path to the sky to reach altitude.
"Welcome to space," the group wrote on Twitter. "We drove to Mach 2.9 (about 3,550 mph). That's 2.9 times the speed of sound, "he said.
SpaceShipTwo, Welcome to Space. ?? pic.twitter.com/tHHNSlkrd0
– Virgin Galactic (@ virgingalactic) December 13, 2018
It is generally believed that the border of space is 100 kilometers away, but the US military sees it as a bit down, at 80.4 kilometers, while a passenger plane flies about 10 kilometers in altitude.
This flight is an extraordinary victory for this space company founded by British businessman Richard Branson, who aims to send tourists into space for $ 250,000 (P $ 170 million). More than 600 customers have already paid the price.
Branson, who confirmed on CNN in November that he expects to see his pilots arrive in space "before Christmas," wrote on Thursday: "Today, for the first time in history, a manned ship built to carry private passengers has reached space."
"It's a crucial day, and I could not be more proud of our teams who opened a new chapter in space exploration," he added.
The US space agency paid Virgin Galactic for VSS Unity to fly four experiments in science and space technology "making this flight to Virgin Galactic the first to make money," the company said.
"Congratulations to @ VirginGalactic on SpaceShipTwo's successful flight to the suburbital space with four shipments of @NASA_Technology on board," NASA said on Twitter.
Greetings to @VirginGalactic On SpaceShipTwo successfully flying in the suburbital space with our four @NASA_Technology Chargers. With a good rocket engine to burn, the mission went beyond the 50 mile target altitude. Learn more about our integrated technology: https://t.co/CnVFu1eSQz https://t.co/D1AhE1Uzxm
– NASA (@NASA) December 13, 2018
Last July, VSS Unity reached 52 kilometers in part of the so-called mesosphere atmosphere, beyond the stratosphere.
Another American company, more discrete than Vienna, is well placed to be the first to send passengers into space: Of blue origin, Founded by millionaire Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, but seems to have decided to do it with a small rocket.
The date of the first commercial flight of the Virgin Galactic was postponed several times, mainly due to the accident that took place on a pilot pilot on a test flight in 2014.
"What we saw today is the most convincing evidence that commercial nature is destined to become one of the industries that define the 21st century," said George Whitesides, president of Virgin Galactic and the spacecraft company.