Virgin Galactic is ready unveiled a commercial rocket plane designed to launch tourists into suborbital space for $200,000 a seat, the company said Monday.
The first glimpse of SpaceShipTwo, Virgin's first commercial passenger spacecraft, comes after beginning its private construction in 2007.
The project is funded by Virgin Galactic founder, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who partnered with aviation designer Burt Rutan.
SpaceShipTwo fits six passengers and two pilots and will begin test flights in 2010 after government regulatory requirements are met.
We want this program to be a whole new beginning in a commercial era of space travel, Branson said, according to the Associated Press.
Branson noted that NASA spends billions on space travel but only sent 480 people. Through Virgin Galatic, he hopes to commercialize space traveling.
The tickets for the initial flights into space are priced at $200,000 a seat.
The spaceship draws on the experience developed during the successful flights of SS1 (SpaceShipOne) in 2004, which won the Ansari X Prize for completing the world's first manned private space flights, Virgin Galactic said in a statement.
The SS2 design will be refined and completed during an extensive test flying program to commence shortly.
SpaceShipTwo will be carried aloft by WhiteKnightTwo, a four-engine jet-powered aircraft unveiled last year that features twin fuselages mounted on either side of a huge wing. The rocket plane will be mounted in the center.
Watch an introduction video to Virgin Galatic SpaceShipTwo below: