The company Virgin Galactic is working to be a space tourism company and has already people signed up to go into space. A few days ago it reached a milestone of sorts when it sent its plane on a 10-minute ride to an altitude to 21km. As a comparison, the International Space Station is at an orbital height of about 420km and the Hubble Space Telescope is at 559km, so it has a long way to go.
This was its third test flight. The plane is first carried by another plane to a height of 14km before it detaches and fires its own engines, as can be seen in the video from various angles
Of course, there is still a long way to go before the plane reaches space as we understand it. There is no actual boundary that marks off when you have reached space, though a common number that is used in 100km. Apparently NASA awards astronaut status to those who reach 80km.
I am not sure what exactly is the height that would qualify as space travel so that it would meet the promises made to the almost 600 people who have paid $80 million in deposits so far.
This place reached a height that is roughly twice that at which normal commercial airlines fly, which does not sound that impressive. Furthermore, according to a 2009 Smithsonian magazine, Alexandr Fedotov holds the world altitude record for a pure jet plane, set in 1977 when his MiG E-266M reached 38km. His plane had no rocket engines and started from the ground and was not carried up by other planes.
In 1962, Robert White reached a height of 96km. In 2004, Brian Binnie in a vehicle called SpaceShipOne reached an altitude of 112km. Both these were rocket-propelled planes that were first carried aloft by other planes, before blasting off on their own with rocket engines. just like the Virgin Galactic flight.
Given these earlier achievements, some of which were a half-century ago, I am not sure why the Virgin Galactic flight made such a big splash. But the video was nice.