The SpaceShipTwo spacecraft VSS Enterprise, which the space tourism company Virgin Galactic has been flying on test flights attached to a huge mothership, could make its first drop flights over California's Mojave Desert for glide and landing tests.
Founded by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is developing a fleet of SpaceShipTwo spaceliners to launch paying thrillseekers on suborbital hops into space. [Photos of SpaceShipTwo in flight.]
SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry eight people (six passengers and two pilots) on suborbital flights that would reach outer space for a few minutes before returning back to Earth. The spacecraft is designed to drop from a mothership, called WhiteKnightTwo, from an altitude above 50,000 feet (15,240 meters) and fire a hybrid rocket motor to launch into suborbital space.