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Three crew members aboard the VSS Unity on Feb. 22, 2018. Photo: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, conducted a second successful test flight of its VSS Unity spacecraft in the skies above Mojave, California on Friday morning and this one made history.

Why it matters: The flight brings the company one step closer to realizing its vision of carrying tourists to space for tickets that reportedly cost up to $250,000 a piece. The test flight on Friday included a third passenger, Beth Moses, who is the company's chief astronaut instructor and a micro-gravity researcher. She became the first passenger to reach space aboard a commercial space craft.

The company said in a tweet that Moses "will provide human validation for the data we collect, including aspects of the customer cabin and spaceflight environment from the perspective of people in the back."

The details: The VSS Unity took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port at about 8 a.m. PT, carried by a larger plane, known as WhiteKnight Two. The aircraft flew to about 40,000 feet, where Unity was released from the mother ship, lit its rocket engine and eventually reached Mach 3 and an altitude of 55.85 miles.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

That altitude is important, as it lies below the Karman Line, which is the widely accepted boundary to space that is 62 miles above the Earth's surface. However, the Federal Aviation Administration considers the beginning at 50 miles, and will hand out astronaut wings to persons who fly to that altitude.

Virgin Galactic's rival in the space tourism market, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, has run test flights above the Karman Line.

What they're saying: In remarks at a conference this week in New York, Bezos criticized Virgin Galactic's tests for not exceeding the Karman Line.

"We've always had as our mission that we wanted to fly above the Karman Line, because we didn’t want there to be any asterisks next to your name about whether you're an astronaut or not," he said, according to Space News. "That's something they’re going to have to address, in my opinion."

Go deeper: Special report: The new global race to space

Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that this flight included the first passenger carried to space aboard a commercial spacecraft.

Go deeper

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.

Beauty giant Coty Cosmetics looking to sell its own branded products

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi. Photo: Axios on HBO

Coty Cosmetics CEO Sue Nabi tells Axios the beauty giant will “probably” introduce Coty-branded products one day.

Why it matters: Coty produces some of the world’s most popular fragrances, skin care products and color cosmetics on behalf of other well-known brands, but has shied away from producing its own branded products.

4 hours ago - Sports

NFL to end race-based testing in concussion settlements

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The National Football League on Wednesday reached an agreement with former players to end the controversial practice of race-based adjustments in dementia testing, AP reports.

Why it matters: The deal, which must still be approved by a judge, comes amid a broader discussion of racial inequities in health care.