Posted By RichC on October 1, 2006
The interior of Virgin Galactic’s Space Ship Two was unveiled at the New York Wired Nextfext by Sir Richard Branson this past week. The notable enterpreneur announced that â€œIt wonâ€™t be much different than this.â€ He comments that â€œItâ€™s strange to think that in 12 months weâ€™ll be unveiling the actual plane, and then test flights will commence right after that.â€
The “spaceliners” will be built by Scaled Composites in Mojave, California by the company well know for pioneering many aviation ventures. Two or the most famous projects were Virgin Atlantics Global Flyer and the $10-million dollar X-prize winning Space Ship One designed by veteran aerospace designer Burt Rutan. (see Airventure photos and comments from 2005) The new Space Ship Two will be belly launched much like the smaller Space Ship One on from a much larger plane being built especially for the job call White Knight Two, after the first hauler White Knight One. According to Virgin Galatic president Will Whitehorn, the ‘spaceliner’ is designed to seat eight people – two pilot and six paying passengers – and pay they will considering the initial ticket price is $200,000. The flight will be about 2-1/2 hours and rocket to a maximum of 68 miles above the earth after being release at 60,000 feet by White Knight Two.
Test flights are scheduled to begin in early 2008 and eventually take passengers up from a ‘spaceport’ being built in New Mexico call Spaceport America. An interesting understated challenge is that of building the massive White Knight Two. It will be the size of a Boeing 757 and double as a training platform for passenger prior to space flight. According to Space.com, there have been 4447 astronauts to date; Virgin Galactic should change that considering they will eventually be scheduling 2 flight per week.
If you are short dollars for a Space Ship Two ticket, you could do what Alan Watts from England has done. He has cashed in his two million frequent flyer miles earned in the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club which are valid with new sister company Virgin Galactic. At aged 51, his space flight has been scheduled for 2009.
Sir Richard Branson