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SpaceShipTwo in flight
Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity glides through a test flight. (Virgin Galactic Photo)

News Brief: Virgin Galactic and the Italian Space Agency say they’ve signed a letter of intent to send an Italian payload specialist and scientific experiments on a suborbital space mission in 2019. The deal was announced today during the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Colorado. Attendees quoted CEO George Whitesides as saying that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, VSS Unity, would go through one more glide test before starting rocket-powered trials at Mojave Air and Space Port in 2018. Commercial flights would be conducted at Spaceport America in New Mexico, potentially by the end of next year, and NASA already has signed up to be a research payload customer.

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