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Virgin Galactic takes first human passenger into space (VIDEOS)

Virgin Galactic takes first human passenger into space (VIDEOS)
Space tourism took a giant leap forward on Friday as Virgin Galactic sent its first passenger to the edge of space. Beth Moses, the company’s chief astronaut instructor, became the first non-pilot to ever achieve the feat.

According to NASA and US military standards, which say space begins at a 50-mile (80.5km) altitude, the craft entered space and the three-person crew became the 569th to 571st people to cross that frontier. The flight reached a height of 55.8 miles (89.9 km).

It was Virgin’s fifth supersonic, rocket-powered test flight and the second time the Richard-Branson-owned company has reached the landmark height.

Moses also achieved the accolade of becoming the first woman to do so on a commercial spaceflight. During the trip, she floated around the cabin to carry out a number of evaluation test points.

Chief pilot Dave Mackay said the view of Earth surpassed all their expectations. “For the three of us today, this was the fulfillment of lifelong ambitions, but paradoxically is also just the beginning of an adventure which we can’t wait to share with thousands of others,” he said.  

Founded in 2004, Virgin Galactic is developing commercial spacecraft to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists at a cost of $250,000 a pop. It also plans to carry out suborbital launches for space science missions.

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