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Emily LakdawallaApril 29, 2013

Supersonic flight for SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic achieved a major milestone today with the first supersonic flight for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle. The rocket fired for a total of 16 seconds. Here's Virgin's press release, and two super awesome photos of the beautiful ship in flight. Make sure to click through to enlarge the beautiful photo. And scroll down -- there's also a video!

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo first powered flight and Clay Center Observatory

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo first powered flight
SpaceShipTwo fires her rocket motor in flight for the first time in a flight over the Mojave Desert on April 29, 2013.
View from SpaceShipTwo of its rocket firing

Virgin Galactic

View from SpaceShipTwo of its rocket firing
The view from SpaceShipTwo's tail as her rocket motor fires during her first supersonic flight on April 29, 2013.

Please accept marketing-cookies to watch this video.

I hope to see more pretty pictures soon!

Take care with your use of the photos though. Virgin Galactic is a private company, not a federal agency. NASA's images are in the public domain so you can do whatever you want with them. Virgin Galactic's images are shared under much more restrictive terms. The relevant section of their terms and conditions is section 9, where it stipulates that the photos are only for use in "professional journalistic context" and that they can't be used on commercial items, etc.

I thought it was interesting that several people on Twitter were complaining about there not being a live feed of this test. People have been spoiled by NASA's openness. Nowadays with NASA the public rides along with all their endeavors, both successes and failures. Private companies like Virgin are not obligated to do the same; we should be happy they allowed employees to tweet the test so that those of us who were on Twitter could hear about it in real time. If you, as a member of the public, like being involved in space exploration, private spaceflight will disappoint you. That's one of many reasons we need to continue to support NASA. Not only do they do great things, they take the public with them. So write your congresscritter today.

Read more: Commercial spaceflight, pretty pictures, pics of hardware on earth

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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