Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Two

Yesterday, December 7th 2009, Virgin Galactic officially unveiled their new Spaceship Two and it’s carrier aircraft, the VMS Eve:

This is the commercially viable spacecraft developed from the Ansari X-prize winning Spaceship One vehicle shown here:

The new vehicle obviously carries more passengers in the orbiter, I’m not quite sure yet about the capacity of the carrier craft, though it definitely looks to have windows lining both of the twin fuselages. The design is much less radical looking with the more traditionally shaped nose & cockpit forms, despite the unusual wing. Maybe its just me, but I think that this really works in their favor, to make the craft appear more familiar and therefore less intimidating to potential passengers.

The old fashioned nose art probably doesn’t hurt either:

This graphic shows the whole flightplan:

Personally, from a design standpoint, I love this.
The shape of it reminds me of my favorite plane, the Lockheed P-38, but with an old fashioned pulp sci-fi meets Apple vibe.
Its a MoCo version of Flash Gordon’s whip.

Not to mention we are seeing the birth of %$#&ING SPACE TOURISM!!!

More here:

What do you think?

I’m really ambivalent regarding this, even tough I’m a freak of space exploration.


  • As you said from a design point of view the whole experience and aesthetic is fascinating.
  • Allegedly, 600 jobs were created because of this project
  • More private companies are getting into the space business, meaning the cost of putting satellites in orbit and sending humans will get down


  • Liquid fuel rockets are very dangerous, it would be a triumph to make this reliable, even tough it’s a suborbital flight. (ex. space shuttle has more than 1% failure rate).
  • Pretty darn polluting adventure, even tough spaceshiptwo is very fuel efficient and use cleverly whiteknight as a launch platform.
  • I really do not see where this pushes mankind forward, yes people seeing the earth from above can get that “omg earth is so fragile feeling”, but I think it’s just a fancy, expensive and polluting Disney world ride.

I think private companies like Space X are the future of cheap space flight adn that’s where the energy should be put.

But…aside from that…if I had the chance…I would probably go anyway :smiley:

Oh man, I dont know if id dare to go in to space in something that looks like a huge cheesegrater. To me that shuttle-thing doesnt really convey safety in any way… But on the other hand, their cliental is probably bigger dare devils then I am… and wealthier.

I have mixed emotions about space tourism. Its crazy that its here, almost like those old disney predictions of the future. On the other hand, It feels like those resources could be used in a wiser manner down here on the crust.

Yeah, I totally agree about all of the drawbacks that you both mentioned.
I’m ambivalent because of the disparity between the adventure and the political correctness.
However, this is 2009.
Can I get a big loud FINALLY! from all of us who are feeling just a bit cheated by the future as promised by the damn boomers?
You know, the future that wasn’t loaded with consequences.

I think it’s spectacular. Space travel in a crazy, really crazy looking vehicle.


In a month it will be 2010.

This is Marc Newson’s interior work on another spaceplane concept, but Branson used Stark. I wonder how the interior is going to look on this… wish there were more pictures

found some!

I think this whole project is 150% of bad a$$ness, but with that said - Anyone have any thoughts about the fact that they are not even going into low earth orbit? It’s just a very, very, VERY high vomit comit (with rocket boosters)… for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wait a minute, that sounds awesome. Nevermind…

4133831146_9c8f487085_o copy.jpg


Like you mentionned it’s just a parabolic flight…much like Alan Shepard did 50 years ago.

I hope they’re not going into orbit, it would require an indecent amount of fuel. That is why this is so “affordable”. Getting into low earth orbit like the space shuttle at that price would probably require a new type of cheap propulsion not yet invented.

By the way, if you want to experience weightlessness for a fraction of the cost, you can fly the real vomit comet with the guys from the Zero G corp. I think it’s about 5000$.

By the way, if you want to experience weightlessness for a fraction of the cost, you can fly the real vomit comet with the guys from the Zero G corp. I think it’s about 5000$.

There are other ways … maybe not for twenty minutes.

Can I get a big loud FINALLY! from all of us who are feeling just a bit cheated by the future as promised by the > damn boomers> ?

… hey, I resemble that remark!

the nose retro branding is awesome. the plane is also nice to see a “designed” aesthetic rather than the usual. I loved the newson interior…

just parabolic flight maybe but it says its at 360000 ft!! that’s pretty incredible. $5000 is not really that much but the booking site says it’s $200,000. Didn’t dome russian guy pay millions to actually get to the space center? $5000 is as much as a business class ticket to europe and on par even with some all expenses paid trips for a few weeks someplace… not bad for a pretty unique experience if it was the case.

I couldn’t see how long you are up there for. anyone know?

i only would hope you can keep the helmets and suits. those look pretty awesome too!


the $5000 is for the C-9 or the 747 doing parabolas at a normal jet airliner height… double g then 0g, over and over

the $200,000 is for the SpaceShip two rocket assisted climb to the upper atmosphere, 68 miles straight up. That is a serious difference… and instead of parabolas I think it has a lot more hang time up there, and you ride a rocket!

The thing is, it’s not a true orbit, and you might be able to say that it’s not really space… to get to the ISS, you’d have to climb like 80 more miles and that is the big difference. That’s what changes the price, and is more like what Space X is trying to do with the dragon capsule, a true airliner to space. That’s still a couple years off though

Just wanted to mention…

Newson’s and Stark’s (to me) concept are awesome! what a project… what an amazing project

I believe you get 5-6 minutes of true weightlessness… parabolic flight gives you about 25 seconds and it’s a kind of fake weightlessness as the plane and it’s contents are still within the earths gravitational pull but the trajectory of the aircraft is such that it feels like weightlessness.

Being as high as SpaceshipTwo would go it is officially the edge of space where the effect of the earth’s gravity is much less and there is little to no atmosphere to create drag.

There is an amazing documentary on YouTube about the development of SpaceShipOne… I’m a bit of a space nerd and find it absolutely fascinating and quite exhilarating that we are living in an age when in theory I could sell my house, move to the country into a smaller house AND become an astronaut. (still working on the wife with that one :slight_smile: ) Truly is an amazing time in human history if you ask me.

Here’s the doc if anyone is interested…

1st of 12… - YouTube

The guys who flew this thing must have f*cking balls of steel… all very rudimentary technology.

Really? how rudimentary can it be when the entire computers of Apollo 11 likely had much less processing power than a first gen ipod, (let alone likely an 80’s casio digibank watch) and they made it just fine…


True, but the Apollo program had the advantage of not having to be reuseable so the Saturn V rocket was essentially a huge bomb pointing upwards and the re-entry capsule didn’t need to be flown, it just needed to be angled correctly and fell through the atmosphere.

If you compare it though with todays other re-useable space vehicle, the Space Shuttle, then it is extremely rudimentary in both it’s ascent and descent. SpaceShipOne was the first mechanical aircraft since Chuck Yeager to go supersonic and unlike the Space Shuttle it doesn’t need computers to assist in flying it… it’s just a really damn clever glider.

Something that made me laugh, if you watch the doc… when they release the spaceship from ‘White Knight’ it’s just a guy in the back seat pulling on what looks like a big hand brake… simple but does the job.

From what I remember that “angle” is pretty precise, miss by a few degrees and you skip off the atmosphere into oblivion. I happened to watch the last space shuttle landing a few weeks ago, and it still amazes me.

I remember when the X-Prize competition was announced 15 years ago. I thought it was a joke. No way is anyone going to win this I thought. Now we not only have a winner, we have a commercial product. I’m stunned. Burt Rutan is a design genius and I hope he doesn’t stop here–we need him to continuously question the status-quo and take us even further.

there is computing power, and then there’s the brute force needed to fling a vehicle out of earths gravity…

Check this video out at 3:13 - the acceleration is amazing and the shuttle weights 4.5 million tons! It eventually gets to Mach 25

The speed and propulsion challenges are what kept commercial spaceflight from happening for so long and what make it so dangerous.

Holy cow. I watched that twice! It’s been, what, thirty years that they’ve been using the shuttle? Amazing.

I don’t think I could ever tire of watching footage like that. I have got to get myself to a launch before they retire the Space Shuttle.