If you are hoping to catch a ride on the first private commercial passenger spacecraft, you will be riding on a spacecraft named ‘Enterprise’, more specifically Virgin Galactics VSS Enterprise, which was unveiled Monday night. More details below.
Go to space on board the Enterprise
After Burt Rutan’s Spaceship One won the X-Prize for being the first privately built re-usable spacecraft, Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson partnered with Rutan to form Virgin Galactic. Together they began work on Spacship Two, their first spacecraft to send tourists into suborbital spaceflights. That craft was unveiled tonight in a ceremony at the Mojave Air and Space Port. And the craft was christened as the VSS Enterprise, an homage to Star Trek and the other great ships to share the name.
Virgin’s Richard Branson at the christening of the VSS Enterprise (LA Times)
Branson hopes that the first flights with paying passengers will be in 2011, after more tests. The suborbital flights will only give you a few minutes in the weightlessness of space, and cost $200,000, which includes a complete training program. Virgin Galactic say they already have more than 300 early adopters signed up.
Of course this isn’t the first ‘first Enterprise’ spacecraft. In 1976, after lobbying from the fans, NASA named the first space shuttle as ‘Enterprise’. However, that craft never actually made into space, so Virgin Galactic’s Enterprise will be the first Enterprise to venture into the final frontier.
Roddenberry and the Original Series cast with the Space Shuttle Enterprise
Here is video of the unveiling (thanks to Jakedweh)
Here is an AP report on the VSS Enterprise
And here is a video from Virgin Galactic which has more on their plan to take you to space.