Mojave Air and Spaceport (CA) – Virgin Galactic’s founder and billionaire playboy Sir Richard Branson has unveiled his White Knight Two ship that will help power people into space. The four-engine, all carbon-composite plane, has a wingspan of 140-feet and is the brainchild of legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan. Branson hopes the nearly finished craft will convince people to pony up $200,000 for a once in a lifetime trip into sub-orbital space some 62 miles above Earth.
According to Virgin Galactic, the White Knight Two is approximately 70% complete and will undergo flight testing this fall. It’s powered by four Pratt and Whitney engines and features an all composite body. In fact, Branson claims the craft is the largest composite plane ever built.
White Knight Two will fly like a conventional aircraft to approximately 50,000 feet with SpaceShipTwo (where the passengers sit) strapped under its wings. The two crafts will then separate and a rocket engine will boost SpaceShipTwo more than 60 miles above Earth where passengers will experience about six minutes of complete weightlessness and wonderful vomitting.
So far more than 100
beta-testers, err people, have already signed up for Virgin Galactic’s sub-orbital flights. I saving up my pennies and will buy a ticket once all the kinks get worked out.