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Virgin Galactic's new spaceship completes its first glide test

This early test of VSS Unity was an important step.
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Virgin Galactic just came much closer to resuming its dreams of private spaceflight in the wake of its tragic crash from 2014. The company has successfully conducted the first glide test flight for VSS Unity, better known as the new SpaceShipTwo. The vehicle was only flying free for 10 minutes and never traveled faster than Mach 0.6, but that was enough to get a healthy amount of data illustrating how Unity behaves in real life.

There are more such tests ahead, and you won't see rocket-powered flights until sometime in 2017. The schedule will likely depend on how quickly Virgin gets the information it needs. Still, it's a start -- and given that the first test went "extremely well" (if you ask Virgin), honest-to-goodness spaceflight may happen sooner than you think.

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