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SpaceShipTwo performs third powered flight
Posted: Sat, Jan 11, 2014, 11:11 AM ET (1611 GMT)
SpaceShipTwo third powered flight (MARS Scientific/Clay Center Observatory) A piloted suborbital vehicle made its third powered flight on Friday as officials with the company developing it said they were still on track to begin commercial flights later this year. Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo was released by its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft shortly after 8 am PST (11 am EST, 1600 GMT) Friday after taking off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. SpaceShipTwo then fired its hybrid rocket motor for 20 seconds, reaching a peak speed of Mach 1.4 and ascending to 21,600 meters (71,000 feet) before gliding to a runway landing at Mojave. The flight was only slightly higher and faster than the previous SpaceShipTwo test flight in early September, which itself was only slightly higher performance from the vehicle's first powered flight in late April 2013. However, company officials said the flight keeps Virgin Galactic on track to begin commercial suborbital flights of SpaceShipTwo later this year.
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