Virgin Galactic tested the suborbital rocket plane VSS Unity for the third time on July 26, 2018, above the Mojave Desert of California, in the United States. This time, the plane reached the mesosphere.

 

 

After its carrier VMS Eve, developed by Scaled Composites, dropped it at an altitude of 14km, VSS Unity fired off its rocket engine for about 42 seconds. The plane managed to reach an altitude of 52 kilometers, halfway to the border of space, while attaining a top speed of about 3050 km/h, two and a half times the speed of sound. Comparatively, Concorde top speed was 2 179 km/h. 

While many other test flights are planned before VSS Unity can enter service, Richard Branson expects to see the plane operational by the end of 2018, according to Bloomberg. “Before the end of the year I hope to be sitting in a Virgin Galactic spaceship, going to space,” said the entrepreneur. The flights will be priced at $250,000 per person. Scotland and Italy already signed up to become spaceports for the plane.