Virgin Galactic Spacecraft Tests Rocket in Flight

After years of delays and nagging engine problems, Richard Branson’s space tourism venture cleared an important hurdle Monday with the first powered test flight of its SpaceShipTwo craft.

Though it lasted only about 16 seconds, the early-morning flight marks a milestone for Virgin Galactic LLC, the high-profile space tourism company that aims to start commercial operations late this year or early 2014.

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