Virgin Galactic Launches Second, Rocket-Powered Test Flight

In another step towards commercial spaceflight, Mojave-based Virgin Galactic announced Thursday afternoon that it has successfully completed its second, rocket-powered supersonic flight of its SpaceShipTwo reusable space vehicle. Virgin Galactic said that the flight took off at 8 a.m. Thursday morning from Mojave, with the SpaceShipTwo achieving a maximum speed of Mach 1.43, and traveling up to 69,000 feet. Virgin Galactic has been targeting launching its commercial service by 2014. The company said the new test flight demonstrates the vehicle's "full technical mission profile" in a single flight, including its re-entry mechanism. (photo via MARS Scientific)