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updated: 1/10/2014 5:31 PM

Virgin Galactic spaceship makes successful flight

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Associated Press

MOJAVE, Calif. -- Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has made its third rocket-powered supersonic flight in the Mojave Desert, soaring to a record 71,000 feet.

The company says the reusable space vehicle was carried by airplane to 46,000 feet Friday and then released. The craft used its rocket motor the rest of the way to reach its highest altitude to date.

SpaceShipTwo and its two-member crew then glided to a safe landing in the desert north of Los Angeles.

Virgin Galactic says the 10-minute test flight moves the company closer to its goal of flying paying passengers into space.

No date has been set for the first commercial flight but hundreds of would-be tourists have made down payments for the chance to fly.

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