July 28, 2009

Virgin Galactic Unveils Spacecraft-Launching Plane

Visitors at the EAA AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Monday got the first glimpse of a new aircraft that is being touted as the future of space travel.

Virgin Galactic unveiled its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft, which the company plans to use in order to launch crafts into space.

Developers of the craft, Burt Rutan and billionaire Sir Richard Branson were in attendance as WhiteKnightTwo soared through the sky as spectators snapped photographs.

According to the Associated Press, WhiteKnightTwo will carry the pressurized craft SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of 50,000 feet, where the craft will be launched to continue, carrying six passengers into space.

Virgin Galactic has initial plans to launch passengers from a base in New Mexico. The journey will last a total of 2 1/2 hours, allowing for about five minutes of weightlessness and a view of the Earth from space.

So far, the company has signed up 300 reserved spots for its first journeys into space. Each reservation costs $200,000 each. Stephen Hawking as well as Bryan Singer, director of the film "Superman Returns," are among the list of people who have grabbed reservations, Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn told the AP.

"We not only have to do it safely, we have to give (passengers) a good time," Virgin Galactic's commercial director Stephen Attenborough said.
"Most people never really believed it would be a reality," said Branson. "By just trying these things, new things come out of it."

Branson has also announced plans to carry his 92-year-old father and 89-year-old mother into space.


Image Credit: Wikipedia


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