Is it out of this world or just an expensive gamble? Whatever your view, business tycoon Richard Branson has unveiled the first ever commercial passenger spaceship he hopes will propel people into orbit.
SpaceShipTwo could be rocketing wealthy tourists into space as early as 2011 and the daredevil British billionaire and his family intend to be on board the first flight, but only after rigorous safety checks. ‘‘It’s taken us five years to get to this stage. I think it’ll take us maybe anything up to two years of solid thorough tests before, you know, before I allow my children, and my parents, and myself and all our wonderful astronauts who signed up to go into space,’‘ said Richard Branson. A twin-hulled mothership will release SpaceShipTwo into the atmosphere before on-board rockets shoot the shuttle more than 100 kilometres above the earth. But it is not for those with a limited budget. Some 300 aspiring astronauts have already put down deposits for the 130,000 euro ride.