SpaceShipTwo by Virgin Galactic


In California yesterday, space tourism company Virgin Galactic unveiled a craft designed to carry passengers on short flights into space.

Above photo is by Ned RocknRoll

Called SpaceShipTwo, the craft is expected to begin flights for passengers in 2011.

It will be able to carry two pilots and six passengers on two-and-a-half-hour sub-orbital flights.

More information in our previous story.

Photographs are by Mark Greenberg except where stated otherwise.

Here's some text from Virgin Galactic:


Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Roll Out

On Monday 7th December Virgin Galactic unveiled SpaceShipTwo to the world at Mojave Spaceport, California.

800 press, future astronauts and VIP guests gathered in the desert for a press conference and to view the roll out of the world's first commercial spaceline.

Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan led the press conference, special recognition went to the team at Scaled Deposites whose hard work and dedication have made this happen. Governors Bill Richardson and Arnold Schwarzenegger both contributed at the press conference, celebrating this huge milestone and also joining Holly, Richard's daughter in naming the spaceship, VSS Enterprise.

Above photo is by Ned RocknRoll

Despite gale force winds and stormy weather, guests gathered on the runway after the press conference to see SpaceShipTwo for the first time. The spaceship was carried down the runway by her mothership, VMS Eve, to a spectacular display of lights, music and snow which only helped increase the anticipation of her arrival and excitement and awe as she appeared before the crowds.

Posted on Tuesday December 8th 2009 at 7:50 pm by Natasha Lyons. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Steve D

    all i can think of is what a colossal waste of fuel and money

  • Matthias

    AKA “the Siamese triplet”.
    I’d rather fly a 25-year old Tie Fighter, they looked much safer than this.

  • stunning! the dawn of a new era.

    next adventure is to find a better, more sustainable fuel source

  • Nice typo above (“Scaled Deposites” instead of “Scaled Composites”). Was that in the original? Whoops.

  • Ivab

    It’s not nice. Construction seems to be not solid.

  • yeah…

    doesn’t it look kind of fragile? the connection of the wings to fuselage is so delicate it looks like the wings could rip right off. i’m sure it’s fine but if i were paying that much money, i would want to get into something that looks a bit stronger.

  • Will Dezeen be having a competition offering five free trips on SpaceShipTwo?

  • I want to be the first to dress in drag and float in space! There have been clowns, pop stars and business men, its about time for a raging queen to make it into space…

  • BRian

    Beautiful work!

    Burt Rocks!

  • harry

    Natasha, is the timing of posting this meant to be cynical with the climate conference going on right now….?

  • space alien

    generate more pollutants and pollute the world
    at that time, we need bigger capacity to send us out from earth.

  • Long John Silver

    very cool ! star wars at last!

  • Buzz Aldrin

    Burt is a true design pioneer – loving it!

  • Why have one or two planes when you can have three! The whole idea of venturing into space completely eclipses the design of the thing, it could look like a iPhone for all I care.

  • Jesse

    I hope this starts a new space race – public vs. private sector – and inspires us to explore space again!

  • You would have to pay me to fly in that thing!
    Just imagine “sitting” in the center part: “ladies and gentlemen, on the left you can admire.. em… a spacecraft, and on the right…eeeeerrr… another spacecraft… Ain’t it worse a million $?”

  • Weightless

    Scaled Deposites? I think you meant Scaled Composites. But you’ve given me an idea.

  • Jay Gonzcros

    To be seen. How on earth would they test flight such a thing. The mother ship looks fine but the SS2 looks very flimsy for what it is supposed to do- it has to fly very fast coming back to Earth and it has to be able to withstand the heat. Good luck.

  • John H

    These things are designed to be flexible. Too rigid, and the elements snap under turbulence.

    Just watch out of the window on any commercial flight and you’ll see the wings are designed to flex.

  • Sir Richard Branson, Burt Rutan and Ned RocknRoll, not forgetting some other very important people behind this project, Dr Julia, SeymourPowell, etc – well done to all for having a vision and seeing it through, it’s one of the most exciting commercial prospects to have happened in years, may well pave the way for commercial flights and cut long haul flight times dramatically. Incredible to think that it’s nearly a reality only a few short years since Burt won the X prize. Longing to see this work and folks, when it does and once all the early voyagers have had their exclusive trips to space, flight costs are bound to drop and enable it a reality for all of us.
    So here’s to future holiday destinations and exciting ways of getting there!

  • Wow this is massive. And first flight is quite close ;-)

  • NickS

    Probably everyone is done looking at this article, but

    @ julian

    The first stage runs off of jet A, but the second stage stage runs off of nitrous oxide and rubber. Sustainable? Probably. Good for the environment? If everyone went to work using rocket technology, probably not.

    @ archilocus

    Only the center part goes into space, the bigger plane (white knight 2) is just an efficient way to get to high altitude. Space ship 2 drops off and then the fun really begins.

    That being said, Burt Rutan is from another planet. For an industry that is so tightly controlled, he has found a way to do whatever the heck he feels like.

  • Greg

    Makes me proud of us… and my home. Great things are yet to come out of california, and I for one want to be a part of it… when do they start selling tickets?