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Space Ferry's Cabin Model on Display

September 29, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — British entrepreneur Richard Branson on Thursday unveiled an interior mock-up of the suborbital craft in which his company plans to take customers into space.

The full-size model of the SpaceShipTwo interior was shown at a technology show in New York. The spaceship, to be operated by Virgin Galactic, is to hold six passengers and two pilots.

The cabin had reclining seats, large portholes and room for passengers to float around. A flight, including about five minutes of weightlessness, is expected to cost each passenger $200,000.

It was the first public display of any kind of SpaceShipTwo. The vehicle is being built in private by aviation designer Burt Rutan in California's Mojave Desert, where predecessor SpaceShipOne was flown in 2004.

Test flights are expected to begin late next year, with the first tourist flights in 2008.

Initial tourist flights are to take off from California, and later from a proposed $225-million facility in New Mexico called Spaceport America.

Virgin Galactic's goal is to ferry 500 people in its first year -- roughly the same number of people who have gone up in 45 years of space travel.

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