The rocket ship hit an altitude of 82km before beginning its gliding descent, said mission official Enrico Palermo.
In September, SpaceX said Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo, would be the company's first passenger on a voyage around the moon on its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, tentatively scheduled for 2023.
Virgin Galactic, which is focused on space tourism, aims to use SpaceShipTwo to take paying customers for a short journey to and from space.
He also stated that, if all goes well, only a few more test flights would be needed before Virgin Galactic would be ready to shift operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico, where the company plans to perform commercial flights.
Though Virgin Galactic will eventually serve as the space-tourism arm of CEO Richard Branson's aerospace empire, SpaceShipTwo was ferrying four payloads from NASA, meant to collect data to be used in the space agency's future missions. The flight was the first by the vehicle to cross the boundary of 50 miles, or approximately 80 kilometers, that US government agencies use to award astronaut wings. That is different from a long-held view that the boundary is at 100 kilometres.
"The real limitation we're shooting for is an altitude", said Mike Moses, president of Virgin Galactic, ahead of the launch, as reported by SpaceNews. It's also the first time that a crewed vehicle built for commercial, passenger service, has reached space. "Then I plan to go up into space", he said, noting he looks forward to that next year and is "very, very excited".
One of the many posts on Twitter by Virgin Galactic showcasing the success and significance of the launch
SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, took off in the early morning sunshine at the Mojave test centre in California on Thursday in front of hundreds of employees and their family members.
The company planned to burn the rockets for about 50 seconds, not to their full capacity but enough to send the spacecraft and its two pilots to the edge of space. It reached a top speed of 2.9 times the speed of sound.
"It was a great flight and I can't wait to do it again", said Sturckow, who flew on the space shuttle four times.
The aircraft reached a staggering altitude of 271,268ft after being released by its carrier plane at 43,000ft. The twin tails temporarily rotate upward to increase drag, then return to a normal flying configuration before the craft glides to a landing on a runway. After that, it appears that the experience will be available to the public - for a hefty price of course.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Virgin Galactic says its spaceship, the VSS Unity, is getting ready for the next flight test.
But years passed, the program suffered delay after delay and in 2014, a fatal setback: The spacecraft came apart mid-flight, killing Michael Alsbury, the pilot.
Hansen to quit after 2019 Rugby World Cup
Hansen says there had been no pressure from his family to step aside. Tew confirmed the approach to the New Zealand Herald .