BLUF

Virgin Galactic's boss—Richard Branson—has reached the edge of space using a reusable aircraft.

Summary

After 17 years of work, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic's rocket ship reached the edge of space*. The key points are:
  • mother ship reached 8 miles from earth then released the space plane, which achieved an altitude of 50 miles.
  • The whole trip took 90 mins and included about four minutes of weightlessness.
  • A crew of two pilots and three mission specialists were involved.
  • Branson brought forward to beat Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin (which uses capsules atop reusable booster rockets) into space.
  •  Some media sources were critical of the indulgence of the flight.
  • Virgin plans two more test flights before commercial service starts in 2022.
  • Six hundred-plus people have signed up for flights which will cost around $250,000 each.
*NASA, the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration consider the boundary between the atmosphere and space begins at 50 miles up. However, other organisations think it really begins at 62 miles.