Conscious thinking and resilient systems design is at the heart of Richard Branson's ventures in space.

Last week, Virgin Galactic made civilian travel in outer space closer to reality with the successful launch of its first rocket-powered test flight SpaceShipTwo. The craft, partially owned by Virgin group and the Abu Dhabi-based investment group PJS, launched from Virgin’s Mojave Air and Spaceport in California, where carrier-craft WhiteKnightTwo ferried it to a 47,000 foot altitude after which its own rockets kicked in for a supersonic flight.

The solo run lasted just slightly over 45 minutes, during which the SS2 notched an altitude of 55,000 feet before returning safely back to its desert port. In its first two years of operation, Virgin Galactic plans to take 570 people into space, which will exceed the government number of astronauts (528) who’ve cleared our atmosphere since space travel began in 1961.

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