Virgin Galactic unveiled the VSS Enterprise last night (December 9), two years ahead of the launch of what will be the world’s first commercial spacecraft.
The craft, which is also known as Space Ship Two, will take six passengers paying $200,000 and two pilot astronauts 110km into space in 30 seconds.
The unveiling of the plane at the Mojave Air and Space Port, in New Mexico, comes as Elegant Resorts became the exclusive UK tour operator for Virgin Galactic.
Sir Richard Branson said:
“The unveil[ing] of SS2 takes the Virgin Galactic vision to the next level and continues to provide tangible evidence that this ambitious project is not only moving rapidly, but also making tremendous progress towards our goal of safe commercial operation.”
nt color="#EC1852">Branson appears with aircraft designer Burt Rutan extolling the virtues and beauty of the experience.
Sir Richard predicts that market demand will be such that he could operate up to 50 spaceships. Initially, however, he expects to spend around $400m on five craft.
He also believes that new technologies and economies of scale will see the headline price drop dramatically.
More than 300 people have already forked out $200,000 to reserve a ride on the VSS Enterprise.
The first flight is scheduled for 2011. Passengers will have to take part in a training programme before the ride into space at Mach 3.3 – a third faster than Concorde.
The time in space will last around two hours and passengers will be able to enjoy the sensation of weightlessness while staring at the earth below.