Slideshow

Virgin brings quasi-astronauts one step closer to space

It’s not a bird, or a plane -- it’s a carbon-composite sub-orbital vehicle!

  • This mock-up shows the completed package that Branson hopes will take people into “space”.

  • While some people may scoff at the idea of paying $200,000 per person just to fly up to a technicality, more than 250 people have already signed onto the project despite the fact that there is no launch date.

  • Some men might shy away from painting scantily clad women onto spacecraft named after their mothers, but not Richard Branson!

  • Virgin Galactic showed off its newest carrier aircraft, the WhiteKnightTwo, to media and pre-booked passengers at the Mojave Air and Space Port north of Los Angeles. Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson has named the vehicle Eve after his mother.
    Launched amid typical Branson fanfare, Eve is set to carry the pod that will deliver tourists into a sub-orbit of the Earth, thus technically making them astronauts.

  • Once the two vehicles reach 15.5km above the sea level, the SS2 will detach and fly with its hybrid rocket towards the Karman Line that marks the edge of space, 100km above the ocean.

  • The module in the middle is called SpaceShipTwo and will carry six passengers along with two pilots.

  • The world’s largest carbon composite aircraft is powered by four Pratt and Whiteney PW308A engines that are capable of ferrying the craft to up to over 50,000 feet. The engine decals show a variety of things that have flown throughout history.

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