Virgin Galactic unveils SpaceShipTwo


Space tourism company Virgin Galactic has unveiled the design of SpaceShipTwo, a craft that will carry eight passengers on short space flights.

When commercial flights start from Virgin Galactic's New Mexico Spaceport, the craft will be carried to sub-orbital flight on a carrier aircraft called White Knight Two (above).

Info from Virgin Galactic:



New York, New York, 23rd January 2008: Virgin Galactic today unveiled the design of its new, environmentally benign, space launch system based on the X Prize winning technology of SpaceShipOne, which successfully flew into space for the third time in October 2004 and won the $10m Ansari X Prize.

The construction of the White Knight Two (WK2) mothership, or carrier aircraft, is now very close to completion at Scaled Composites in Mojave, CA and is expected to begin flight testing in the summer of 2008. It is the world’s largest, all carbon composite aircraft; it has a unique high altitude lift capacity, capable of launching SpaceShipTwo and its eight astronauts into sub-orbital space flight.

The WK2 mothership is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines which are amongst the most powerful, economic and efficient engines available. The WK2 mothership has also been designed to be capable of lifting other payload and launching it into space. Both Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic believe the system has sufficient lifting capability to launch unmanned vehicles designed to carry small satellites and other scientific payload into low earth orbit. While the first priority for Virgin Galactic is developing the market for human spaceflight, the Company is already assessing the potential for unmanned launch capability.

SpaceShipTwo is now nearly 60% complete. It incorporates both the lessons learned from the SpaceShipOne program and the market research conducted by Virgin Galactic into the requirements future astronauts have for their space flight experience. It also has built-in flexibility to encompass future requirements for other scientific and commercial applications.

Whilst the two vehicles comprising the space launch system have been under construction, Virgin Galactic’s cadre of future astronauts has continued to grow strongly to well in excess of 200 individuals with around 85,000 registrations of interest to fly. The deposit base now exceeds $30m representing more than $45m of future income to the fledgling spaceline.

Astronaut orientation for spaceflight is progressing well and already 80 of SpaceShipTwo’s first passengers have been through medical assessment and centrifuge training at the NASTAR facility in Philadelphia. During their G Force acclimatization program, the participants were spun to 3.5GZ (head to toe) and 6GX (front to back) to simulate the actual flight profile of SpaceShipTwo during a 110km (68 miles) apogee sub-orbital space flight.

Posted on Wednesday January 23rd 2008 at 4:16 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Nuno

    Ground Control to Major Tom
    Take your protein pills and put your helmet on…

  • ana


  • FDA

    very funky

  • maya

    can’t wait to fly…

  • enzo

    Given that we are living in an environment which is facing dramatic environmental changes for the worse, caused in large part by emissions of fossilized fuels….am I the only one to think these useless projects of getting a few bored wealthy chaps into space are utterly PERVERSE and the epitome of showing that you absolutely do not care whatsoever about what happens to our lovely planet???

    Nice job Branson, let's get tons of ozone-depleting fumes directly into the stratosphere so that we may have a last peak at the blue planet! Somebody needs to stop these guys and give them something more useful to play with:)

    • noekr

      On the other hand it could be inspiring for those millionaires who decide to spend money on that flight. Maybe they will appreciate and respect more of our planet after landing.

  • Impressive

  • paper

    don’t know the ins and outs but, darhling enzo, doesn’t it say that the project is ‘environmentally benign’? Ok so this seems unlikely but…

  • Dj Nick Kay

    Will peanuts still cost $3? Also, please do not show the movie ‘Apollo 13’ on this flight

  • Jordan Baguley

    i think going into space will be amazing and enzo advance in technology like this will lead to ways of saving the planet not destroying it.
    Go Brandson i love you xxx!!!

  • Thomas Beech

    OMFG This is like totally awesome!!!!!

    I F***ing love you branson xxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Jordan Baguley

    oh god i hope you can take me with your rocket brandson xxx

  • Great looking spaceship! I would like to design some plasma force fields to use for space viewing.