Virgin Galactic could attempt a test flight of its SpaceShipTwo spaceplane this week.
In a statement, the company said that the next test flight of VSS Unity, the second SpaceShipTwo, is planned from California's Mojave Air and Space Port and could happen today.
This would be the first test flight for SpaceShipTwo since July and the fourth for the vehicle. It will carry two pilots into "space", and will "burn the rocket motor for durations which will see pilots and spaceship reach a space altitude for the first time".
"At a basic level, this flight will aim to fly higher and faster," the company said.
Virgin did not specify what it means by "space altitude," although company officials have earlier said that they are focusing on altitude of about 80 kilometres, as used by NASA, the United States Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration for awarding astronaut wings.
"For us and our customers, I think we'll be focused on 50 miles, at least at the start," George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said last month.
The flight will provide important data points about SpaceShipTwo, including thermal dynamics and supersonic handling qualities, at higher speeds and altitudes. The performance of the vehicle at such altitudes will determine the time duration for which the rocket motor will be burned.
On its previous flight, vehicle's hybrid rocket motor was burned for 42 seconds, which enabled it to reach an altitude of 52 kilometres. The company is eyeing higher altitudes on upcoming flight of the SpaceShipTwo.
Virgin Galactic is currently in a race with SpaceX and Blue Origin to be the first private organisation to send tourists into space. The company wants to send tourists into space by 2019 and is charging £190,000 for a single seat on its commercial space flights. The company says tourists going into space will experience zero gravity for several minutes.
Virgin's founder, billionaire Richard Branson, has also said that he would like to see the price of space flight ticket fall to around £30,000 over the next ten years.
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