Virgin Galactic has completed its first powered test flight since 2014’s disastrous crash that cost the life of a pilot.

Richard Branson took to twitter and announced that “space seems tantalisingly close now” after the spacecraft’s flight concluded successfully.

The spacecraft, VSS Unity, launched from Mojave, California and successfully reached speeds of up to mach 1.6 for the first time under rocket power. Virgin Galactic’s sister manufacturing company, The Spaceship Company, built the VSS Unity from scratch for Virgin Galactic. The successful test flight is the result of over 2 years of extensive ground and atmospheric testing.

The VSS Unity utilised the SpaceShipTwo spaceflight system which consists of WhiteKnightTwo, a custom-built, carrier aircraft, and SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first passenger carrying spaceship to be built by a private company and be operated in commercial service. You can view the powered test flight in the video below

In a statement Virgin Galactic said:

The flight has generated valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance which our engineers will be reviewing. It also marks a key moment for the test flight program, entering now the exciting phase of powered flight and the expansion to full duration rocket burns. While we celebrate that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead.

Much like their competitor, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic seeks to make access to Space far more open than ever before.

[Image – Virgin Galactic]