24 January 2008
News - Vehicles (Good)
SpaceShipTwo Uncloaked
New design, larger capacity
by Carol Pinchefsky
by Carol Pinchefsky

Scaled Composites, partnered with Virgin Galactic, has revealed the most recent design for their two-stage-to-suborbital spacecraft, White Knight Two (WK2)and SpaceShipTwo (SS2).

WK2, their “mothership,” which will taxi SS2 to the edge of space (50,000 feet) and then release it, has been stretched from to 141 feet from White Knight's 82 feet. It also includes a second passenger cabin. SS2 carries two pilots and six passengers, up from SS1's one pilot and two passengers.

The commencement of low-cost spaceflight will open the world to new adventures in tourism, as well as in scientific research. In a press release, Sir Richard Branson said, “The beauty of WK2 and SS2 is that they can help change the paradigm of our relationship to space, achieving an era where space accessibility becomes a commercial and scientific norm, rather than an exception.”

Although Virgin Galactic's president Will Whitehorn said he would not set a timetable for the start of passenger travel, he anticipates that test flights should commence as early as late 2009. SS2 is 60% complete, and WK2 is 70% complete,

Tickets on SS2 should cost $200,000 a flight.
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Carol Pinchefsky 24 January 2008
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