SpaceShipTwo, Unveiled

January 24, 2008

The ultimate tourist spot for the rich and famous is almost within reach. The new model of Spaceship Two has been unveiled by designer Burt Rutan and billionaire Richard Branson. The new spacecraft is planned to ferry passengers on suborbital joyrides. Also included in the presentation is WhiteKnightTwo, a 4-engine jet that will carry SpaceshipTwo in its midair launch. The passengers, as many as six, would get about 4.5 minutes of zero-gravity time as they could unbuckle themselves and experience weightlessness and an unparalleled view before gliding back to Earth.

"Breathtakingly beautiful," was Branson's assessment of the ship, which is now under construction at a hangar in the Mojave Desert and which may begin test flights as soon as this year.

WhiteKightTwo and SpaceShipTwo

Will Whitehorn, president of Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, insisted the project is on course. Construction on the White Knight Two is already more than 70 percent complete, he said. SpaceShipTwo is about 60 percent complete, and the company and Rutan's aerospace outfit, Scaled Composites, hope to begin test flights this summer.

About 200 prospective passengers from 30 countries have made reservations, shelling out $200,000 (U.S.) apiece. Many were in attendance for Wednesday's presentation.

The Flight Plan



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