Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has geared up and finally sent its rocket ship to the edge of space.
The successful flight is a major step toward the long-delayed dream of commercial space tourism.
The next test flight happened on Thursday with the rocket-powered spacecraft soaring high above California's Mojave Desert.
SEE: Virgin Galactic brings space tourism closer to reality with third rocket powered test flight
Two test pilots flew the craft early Thursday above the Mojave Desert at an altitude of more than 80.4 kilometres, which it regards as the boundary of space.
CEO George Whitesides says that's the standard used by the Air Force and other US agencies.
That differs from a long-held view that places the boundary at 99.8 kilometres. But Whitesides says Virgin Galactic is a US company and will use the US standard.
Virgin Galactic has been eager to reach space after years of developing its space tourism rocket.
In a statement on the Virgin Galactic website prior to the flight, the company said that "Overall the goal of this flight is to fly higher and faster than previous flights. We plan to burn the rocket motor for longer than we ever have in flight before, but not to its full duration...If all goes to plan our pilots will experience an extended period of micro-gravity as VSS Unity coasts to apogee, although – being pilots – they will remain securely strapped in throughout. They should also have some pretty spectacular views which we look forward to sharing as soon as possible post flight. We are at a stage now in our testing program where we want to start simulating the commercial weight distribution in the spaceship represented by our future passengers."
SEE: 'Good chance you will die': Elon Musk on Mars mission and other space travel updates
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