However you measure it, though, the flight represents a triumph for Virgin Galactic - and a stark change from just over four years ago, when the company grabbed headlines for a very different, altogether tragic reason.
The company said their SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, has entered the next stage of testing which will "expand the envelope for altitude, air speed, loads, and thermal heating".
The mated jet and rocket ship lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday.
The development also likely comes as welcome news to the prospective space tourists who have already invested heavily in tickets aboard the first official flights, whenever they get off the ground.
Richard Branson center celebrates with pilots Rick "CJ" Sturckow (L), and Mark "Forger" Stucky (R), after Virgin Galactic's tourism spaceship climbed more than 50 miles high above California's Mojave Desert on December 13, 2018. The spaceship proceeded to fire its hybrid rocket motor for about 50 seconds or so, longer than any on any previous test runs.
Today's flight is one step closer to Virgin Galactic's goal of taking paying passengers into space.
Branson greeted the two pilots after the test, declaring "Space is Virgin territory!"
Image The VSS Unity took off the Mojave Desert early on Thursday
Virgin Galactic's development of its spaceship took far longer than expected and endured a setback when the first experimental craft broke apart during a 2014 test flight, killing the co-pilot. Today we completed our first revenue generating flight and our pilots earned their Commercial Astronaut Wings.
Once at the correct altitude, the pilots cut the engine, letting the ship to glide upwards a bit more and then level off - this allows passengers to feel weightlessness and see the planet against the blackness of space. After a 60-second engine burn speeds the craft to almost three times the speed of sound, it continues its ascent, coasting until it reaches maximum altitude.
Virgin Galactic says its tourism spaceship has climbed more than 80 kilometres high, which the company considers the boundary of space.
Branson confirmed that he still planned to be on the first commercial flight of SpaceShipTwo from Spaceport America.
That prize was collected in October 2004 by the group behind SpaceShipOne, whose design Virgin Galactic adapted for VSS Unity and its other piloted, six-passenger spaceliners (which are collectively termed SpaceShipTwo vehicles).
"Like the early days of aviation, these commercial space flights take grit and innovation - the very attributes it takes to blaze a trail for generations to follow", the FAA said in its announcement.