Virgin Galactic tourism rocket reaches space. (AP Photo/John Antczak)
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has successfully launched a tourism rocket plane into space for the very first time.

SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity,  reached an astounding altitude of 271,268ft (82km) after released by its carrier plane at 43,000ft (13km) It reached a high speed of 2.9 times the speed of sound.

Hundreds watched the area tourism plane remove at 7.10am and land back at the test centre successfully, which Sir Richard referred to as “a relief”.

It had reached space altitudes around 50 minutes after take-off, which the ongoing company;s Twitter account acknowledged with a tweet which read: “SpaceShipTwo, welcome to space.”

The billionaire businessman made mention of those that had sacrificed their lives for the Virgin Galactic cause, including the co-pilot who had died following a crash in 2014.

Flown by two pilots, Mark Nasa and Stucky astronaut Frederick Sturckow, the aircraft made its rapid ascent because the rocket motor burned for 60 seconds.

Speaking to the crowd following the successful launch, billionaire businessman Sir Richard said:

Today, for the very first time ever sold, a crewed spaceship, created to carry private passengers, reached space. 
Today we completed our first revenue-generating flight and created two new astronauts – well, one of these was an astronaut nevertheless, you know what After all already.
Today we’ve shown that Virgin Galactic can open space to improve the world once and for all really.

The 68-year-old had  been emotional through the entire flight, shedding many tears and hugging his son Sam since it made its solution to space altitudes eventually.

He continued: 

We shall now push on with the rest of the part of our flight test programme that will start to see the rocket motor burn for longer, and VSS Unity fly still faster and higher towards giving a large number of private astronauts an event which provides a fresh planetary perspective to your relationship with the planet earth sufficient reason for the comsos.
But let’s remember that space can be hard and we daily recognise the commitment and sacrifice that is so consistently shown by our amazing Mojave family.
Folks have put their lives at risk to obtain us here literally. Today is really as much for them since it is for all those this.”

After coming to the test centre back, the co-pilot, Mr Stucky, said: 

“It has been an excellent flight. We’d have been pleased with a third of this. T here are a great number of firsts here.”

Watch the experience here: