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Virgin Galactic launches successful powered flight since 2014 crash

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic's new SpaceShip Two VSS Unity spaceship. Photo: Ricky Carioti/ The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virgin Galactic successfully launched its first supersonic test flight on Thursday, CBS News reports. The new tourism space rocket SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity is the first powered flight since a crash in 2014 that resulted in the death of one pilot and destroyed the rocket's earlier model.

Why it matters, per CBS: "Virgin Galactic is the first private company to offer trips out of the atmosphere that are open to private citizens. Blue Origin, owned by Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos, has also entered the commercial space arena, building a roomy capsule that will be boosted out of the atmosphere by a more traditional hydrogen-powered rocket."