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Unveiled! Virgin Galactic's New Ride (CNN) {SpaceShipTwo}

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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 06:15 PM
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Unveiled! Virgin Galactic's New Ride (CNN) {SpaceShipTwo}
A look inside Virgin Galactic's new ride

By Eric Adams
Popular Science

( -- Virgin Galactic recently unveiled a mock-up of the slick, Philippe Starck --designed interior of its SpaceShipTwo (SS2) suborbital tourist vehicle.

The real bird won't be shown for at least a year, but at a press conference in New York, led by Richard Branson himself and Virgin Galactic chief Will Whitehorn, gave a good peek into how the program is progressing and what these first consumer spaceflights will be like.

The cabin itself is more than three times as large as that of the X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne (SS1), accommodating six passengers and two pilots and permitting plenty of float-around possibilities during the estimated five minutes of weightlessness the vehicle will achieve at the peak of its ascent.

Burt Rutan, designer of both vehicles and their motherships, White Knight and WhiteKnightTwo (WK2), and his team at Scaled Composites seem to be on track for the prototype unveiling late next year, although the stated 2009 commencement of commercial flights seems optimistic, given the apparent delays in the development of the scaled-up, more complex SS2.

Mockups of the cabin hints at Rutan's strategy -- make the spaceflight experience user-friendly for anyone other than hardcore test pilots.

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