Richard Branson Expects Commercial Virgin Galactic Flights to Begin in Mid-2019 | 1/25/2019 | Staff
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WASHINGTON — The founder of Virgin Galactic says he now expects to fly on the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle around the middle of this year after a series of test flights starting in the next several weeks.

In an interview on the "CBS This Morning" television show Jan. 24 to announce a partnership with athletic apparel company Under Armour to provide clothing for Virgin Galactic customers and employees, Richard Branson reiterated his plans to fly into space later this year on the first commercial SpaceShipTwo flight.

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That plan for test flights is consistent with what Branson told reporters in December after the latest SpaceShipTwo test flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, where the vehicle for the first time flew above the 50-mile (80 kilometers) altitude used by U.S. government agencies for awarding astronaut wings.

"Ideally, we want to do three more flights before we go to New Mexico," he said then. At the time, he said that next test flight could take place as soon as January.

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Virgin Galactic executives have been more circumspect about the number of test flights and their schedule. George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said after last month’s test flight only that "not a huge number" of test flights are planned...
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