Virgin Galactic rolled out a new version of its ‘Space Ship Two’, a space tourism rocket on Friday as it prepares to return to flight testing for the first time since a 2014 accident destroyed the original craft, killing a pilot and setting back the nascent industry. A Land Rover with Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson standing through the sunroof pulled the ship in front of an audience inside a hangar at Southern California’s Mojave Air & Space Port, where it was assembled.
The ship is the size of a small corporate jet. It was named Virgin Spaceship Unity at the suggestion of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, whom Branson promised a free ride into space. SpaceShipTwo is designed to be flown by a crew of two and carry up to six passengers on a high-speed suborbital flight to the fringes of space. At an altitude above 62 miles, passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the Earth below.
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