Video courtesy: VIRGIN GALACTIC
SpaceShipTwo (SS2) and its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) herald a new era in commercial space flight with daily space tourism flights set to commence from Spaceport America in New Mexico after test program and all required US government licensing completed.
Mojave Air and Spaceport, California
December 7, 2009
Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson and SpaceshipOne (SS1) designer, Burt Rutan, today reveal SS2 to the public for the first time since construction of the worlds first manned commercial spaceship began in 2007. SS2 has been designed to take many thousands of private astronauts into space after test programming and all required U.S. government licensing has been completed.
The unveiling represents another major milestone in Virgin Galactics quest to develop the Worlds first commercial space line providing private sector access to space using an environmentally benign launch system for people, payload and science. The spaceship draws on the experience developed during the successful flights of SS1 in 2004, which won the Ansari X-Prize for completing the worlds first manned private space flights. The SS2 design will be refined and completed during an extensive test flying program to commence shortly, and it will be an entirely new vehicle capable of carrying up to 6 passenger astronauts and up to 2 pilot astronauts into space on a sub-orbital flight.
The unveil itself will take place at Mojave Air and Spaceport as darkness falls on the famous aviation and spaceflight location. Subject to certain U.S. regulatory requirements that will guide the unveiling, SS2 will be attached to her WK2 mothership which was last year unveiled and named EVE after Sir Richard Bransons mother. In the future, WK2 will carry SS2 to above 50,000 feet (16 kilometres) before the spaceship is dropped and fires her rocket motor to launch into space from that altitude. In honour of a long tradition of using the word Enterprise in the naming of Royal Navy, US Navy, NASA vehicles and even science fiction spacecraft, Governor Schwarzenegger of California and Governor Richardson of New Mexico will today christen SS2 with the name Virgin Space Ship (VSS) ENTERPRISE. This represents not only an acknowledgement to that names honorable past but also looks to the future of the role of private enterprise in the development of the exploration, industrialisation and human habitation of space.
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