Friday, January 25, 2008

Roll out the spaceplanes!

Virgin Galactic unveiled the designs for what will likely be the first commercial passenger service to space: the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane and WhiteKnightTwo mothership. The WhiteKnight has grown considerably, with four engines and two cabins, allowing space for paying passengers who just want to ride the first portion of the trip of space. Many of these will likely be family members come to watch their loved ones launch in the SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipTwo will carry two pilots and six
passengers. As Alan Boyle reports here, designer Burt Rutan acknowledged safety concerns by saying he was aiming to make the craft "hundreds of times safer" than an airliner. The project's financier, Richard Branson, would like to see test flights being this year, though the date for commercial service is uncertain.

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