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`Space tantalisingly close´ for Sir Richard Branson…

Sir Richard Branson has hailed a successful first powered test flight of Virgin Galactic’s new space tourism rocket.

Virgin Galactic tweeted that the spaceship named Unity was carried aloft by its mother ship and released over California’s Mojave Desert early on Thursday.

The company says the spacecraft achieved supersonic speed before the pilots shut down the engine and it glided back to Mojave Air & Space Port.

Sir Richard Branson has long planned to conquer space (Steve Parsons/PA)

This was Virgin Galactic’s first powered flight since the 2014 crash of its original spaceship that killed one of its two pilots.

Unity was previously flown on test flights in which it remained attached to the mother ship and others in which it was released to glide without lighting the rocket.

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard tweeted that “Space feels tantalisingly close now”.


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