Virgin Galactic has already
debuted its SpaceshipOne (SS1) spacecraft to the public. The follow
up to that original spacecraft dubbed SpaceshipTwo (SS2) is now set
for its first public unveiling along with its mothership the
Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan are
the SS2 and WK2 to the public this week and the craft has already
made its maiden flight. SS2 hopes to start taking people on
suborbital flights as soon as the test flights and required U.S.
government licensing have been completed. SS2 is capable of carrying
up to six "passenger astronauts" and up to two "pilot
astronauts" into space on a sub-orbital flight.
unveiling was held at the Mojave Air and Spaceport after dark. The
unveiling was subject to regulatory requirements and the SS2 was
attached to WK2 for the unveiling. The WK2 mothership will take the
SS2 to an altitude of 50,000 feet before the spaceship drops and
fires the rocket engines to carry the craft and passengers into
sub-orbital space flight.
Governor Schwarzenegger of
California and Governor Richardson of New Mexico were on hand to
christen SS2 with the name Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Enterprise. The
name was chosen in honor of the history of naming Royal Navy and U.S.
Navy ships Enterprise and in honor of the Star Trek spacecraft.
design and operation of the Virgin Galactic program has resulted in a
number of new jobs being created. International Space Fellowship
reports that a recent study claims 12,500 new jobs were created by
the new companies involved in the project. About 600 workers are now
involved in the project and that number is expected to climb to 1,100
at the peak of construction.
voyage of WK2 and SS2 lasted about an hour and the aircraft
reached an altitude of 16,000 feet. Once the testing program is
complete and space flights commence a ticket will cost travelers
Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic
said, “This is truly a momentous day. The team has created not only
a world first but also a work of art. The unveil 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
Burt Rutan, Founder of Scaled
Composites added, “All of us at Scaled are tremendously excited by
the capabilities of both the mothership and SS2. Today is the
culmination of a dream that began many decades ago, was stimulated by
Paul Allen’s funding of our X-Prize winning SS1 and then moved
forward to commercial reality by Sir Richard and Virgin’s visionary
investment in a new future for space transportation.”