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Wed 9 Dec 2009 11:19 AM

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Virgin Galactic unveils its spaceship

The spaceship will begin flying space tourists into space once test programming is complete.

Virgin Galactic unveils its spaceship
SPACE AGE: The SS2 began construction in 2007. (Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic, the space travel company which Abu Dhabi has a 32 percent stake in, has unveiled the world's first manned commercial spaceship and is aiming to begin space flights once test programming has been completed.

Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson, unveiled the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) and its mothership, VMS Eve (WhiteKnightTwo) to the public at a press conference at the Mojave Spaceport in California.

The SS2 began construction in 2007 and will be the world’s first manned commercial spaceship.

The spaceship will begin flying private astronauts and space tourists into space after test programming and all required US government licensing has been completed.

The vehicle is capable of carrying up to six passenger astronauts and up to two pilot astronauts into space on a sub-orbital flight.

The WK2 will carry the SS2 to above 16km before the spaceship is dropped and fires her rocket motor to launch into space from that altitude.

“This is truly a momentous day. The team has created not only a world first but also a work of art. The unveil of SS2 takes the Virgin Galactic vision to the next level and continues to provide tangible evidence that this ambitious project is not only moving rapidly, but also making tremendous progress towards our goal of safe commercial operation,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic.

Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments owns a 32 percent stake in the Virgin Galactic venture and recently it was revealed that plans by a rival Spanish group to build the world’s first space hotel has attracted a lot of interest from the UAE.

For a fee of around $4.4m, The Galactic Suite Space Resort is offering a three-night stay in the hotel and the UAE already ranks second on the list of reservations from space fans around the world, beaten only by the US.

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Blake Parker 9 years ago

I'm impressed that this has become a reality. I recall learning about this and thinking it wouldn't happen in my life time but it has. I would love to be one of the passengers on one of the flights but I don't think I can afford it. I consider the fact that it takes only $00.25/day to feed a child in a school meals program and I think about how many children die each day from lack of food, a lot. I would use (at least some of) the money to help the United Nations World Food Programme ( )provide life-saving aid before I would entertain myself with this tempting flight. I think I would get more satisfaction knowing I did that rather than be a space tourist.

Fred 9 years ago

Don't know what all the fuss is about, holidays in space? No atomosphere!

Samuel Pious 9 years ago

LOL good one Fred ! If only it was cheap.. I'd get one for me mom-in-law.