Virgin unveils first commercial spaceliner

Image of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

OK, it’s not really a spaceliner, ‘cos it won’t be making any leisurely cruises to Mars or even the Moon. It just goes up and then comes down again. But it looks so goddam sexy.

Virgin Galactic has presented the world with this sexy design for SpaceShipTwo, which will start taking paying passengers on a sub-orbital trip in 2010, eight people at a time.

Sir Richard Branson reckons it’s important that the project is a genuine commercial success.

If we do [this], I believe we’ll unlock a wall of private sector money into both space launch systems and space technology.

This could rival the scale of investment in the mobile phone and internet technologies after they were unlocked from their military origins and thrown open to the private sector.

Virgin Galactic reckons the carrier vehicle — White Knight Two — is very nearly finished and will start flight tests later this year. SpaceShipTwo is about 60% complete.

They’ll look rather spiffy parked outside the Foster+Partners spaceport they showed us in October.