Space travel is the perfect vacation—more peaceful than a spa, more adventurous than mountain climbing and, thanks to Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, more than just a sci-fi fantasy. Traveling into outer space is now entirely possible with the introduction of The Virgin Space Ship Enterprise, a.k.a. Space Ship Two (SS2), ready to take flight as early as 2010 or 2011.
The SS2, designed by Mr. Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites and creator of the SS1, was unveiled at the Mojave Air and Spaceport to a crowd of more than 800 press members, future astronauts, and VIP guests. Both California’s Governor Schwarzenegger and New Mexico’s Governor Richardson were on hand to christen this incredible spacecraft that boasts a safer, cleaner flight than most spacecrafts and uses a hybrid rocket motor.
The commercial space flights will seat six passengers and two pilots and actually involve two spaceships: a transporter (SS2) and a carrier ship. The SS2 will be attached to its carrier vessel (named Eve after Branson’s mother) when it takes off. The carrier ship will transport the SS2 to a point around 50 miles upward or wayward from Earth before detaching. The SS2 will then fly to a point more than 60 miles away from Earth.
Commenting on the unveiling, Haute Living cover profile Branson said, “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.”
Six spacecrafts in total will be built and reservations are already being accepted for the 150-minute flight that will let passengers observe Earth from 60 miles away and experience five minutes of weightlessness. The cost of a seat on this luxury aircraft is $200,000—not bad for the experience of a lifetime.