Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spaceship Two Unveiled

Yesterday was a big day at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Sir Richard Branson unveiled the SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise, Virgin Atlantic's first suporbital spaceliner designed to take tourists into space.

Space.com reports that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was joined by California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger for the honor of christening the VSS Enterprise. "I have to tell you that there's a lot of cool things you get to do when you're Governor," said Schwarzenegger. "But today is one of the coolest things that I've ever done."

The VSS Enterprise is in high demand. Monday's unveiling was attended by roughly 300 potential passengers who have already put down at least a deposit on a $200,000 Virgin Galactic ticket.

National Geographic cites ticket holder Adrian Reynard—an Indy-car designer, vehicle-engineering consultant, and in a joint venture with Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline, a supplier to airliner builders—as saying the spaceship is, "aerodynamically beautiful."

"The first thing that strikes you is its size," Reynard said. "It's far bigger than SpaceShipOne," he continued, referring to the reusable manned spacecraft designed by aviation designer Burt Rutan, which won the U.S. $10-million Ansari X Prize in 2004. "This is a massive vehicle, and I can fully understand how [six passengers] will be able to float around in the cabin area."

While the date for the first trip has yet to be decided, it is expected to be sometime in 2011.

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