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Virgin Galactic breaks Mach 2 in third powered test flight

Its VSS Unity also reached its highest altitude to date.
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Virgin Galactic conducted another test of its VSS Unity, taking it out on a third rocket-powered supersonic flight this morning. After being released from the VMS Eve carrier craft, the VSS Unity flew higher than it has previously, reaching a peak altitude of 170,800 feet and entering the mesosphere for the first time. It also reached speeds of Mach 2.47 during its 42 second rocket burn. The first and second VSS Unity powered test flights reached altitudes of 84,271 feet and 114,500 feet and speeds of Mach 1.87 and 1.9, respectively.

The VSS Unity replaced Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, which crashed in 2014, killing one of its pilots. The company says that tests like the one performed today allow it to collect cabin data like temperature, pressure, thermal response, vibration and radiation.

"The flight was exciting and frankly beautiful," said pilot Mike "Sooch" Masucci. "We were able to complete a large number of test points which will give us good insight as we progress to our goal of commercial service."

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