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Virgin is a step closer to space

VIRGIN Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has made its third supersonic flight in the Mojave Desert near Los Angeles, reaching a record 71,000ft.

The company said the reusable space vehicle was carried by aeroplane to 46,000ft yesterday and then released. The craft then used its rocket motor to reach its highest altitude to date.

Virgin Galactic, jointly owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and an Abu Dhabi investment firm, said the 10-minute test flight moves the company closer to its goal of flying paying passengers into space.

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