The carrier aircraft Eve took off from the runway at 10:40 US East Coast time (17:40 Moscow time). It will rise to an altitude of more than 15 km, after which the spacecraft will separate from the carrier and go into suborbital space at an altitude of more than 100 km.
There, the crew members will stay in zero gravity for several minutes, observing the Earth. The pilots will then manually land Unity in the spaceport.
Earlier it was planned that the flight will begin at 16:00 Moscow time, but its postponed for an hour and a half due to weather conditions.
Virgin Galactic aims to carry out suborbital and, in the long term, orbital tourist flights. The company has repeatedly conducted test flights on the device of the previous, second generation Spaceship II – VSS Unity. This is a manned suborbital rocket spaceplane. In December 2018, it reached an altitude of 80 km. Another suborbital ship of the Spaceship II series – VSS Enterprise – crashed in 2014, one pilot was killed, the other survived, receiving serious injuries.
In nine days, another of the richest men in the world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is set to go into space. Its aerospace company Blue Origin is a competitor to Virgin Galactic.