Virgin Galactic completes first launch
Virgin Galactic's fledgling space tourism rocket was taken aloft over the California desert on an inaugural test flight.
The captive-carry test marked the start of a test programme for SpaceShipTwo that will progress to free flights as a glider and then under rocket power, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic said in a statement.
Throughout the two-hour, 54-minute test, the spaceship remained slung beneath the middle of the wing of its unique twin-fuselage carrier aircraft, the WhiteKnightTwo.
The pair achieved an altitude of 45,000 feet before returning to the Mojave Air and Space Port, which is 70 miles north of Los Angeles, the company said.