To achieve spaceflight, the WhiteKnightTwo completes a conventional takeoff from the 2.25-mile-long spaceway, climbing to 50,000 feet with SpaceShipTwo attached. Then SpaceShipTwo is released, firing a motor that pitches it into a near vertical climb and propels it at 3.5 times the speed of sound toward the inky dark of space.
At more than 50 miles above Earth, the pilots shut off the rocket motor, allowing passengers to leave their seats and enjoy several minutes of weightlessness. Gravity soon pulls the ship back toward Earth, and at 50,000 feet the pilots initiate a dynamic glide to the Spaceport America runway.
Learn more about the ship that's making space tourism a reality below