Branson unveils interior of private spaceship |

Branson unveils interior of private spaceship

LOS ANGELES (AP) – British entrepreneur Richard Branson has unveiled an interior mock-up of the suborbital spaceship that his company will use to take paying passengers on flights into space.

The full-size model of the interior of SpaceShipTwo, which is being built in California, was shown during a technology show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City on Thursday.

The spaceship, to be operated by Virgin Galactic, will hold six passengers and two pilots.

The mock-up featured a spacious cabin with reclining seats and large portholes. The interior is designed to give passengers room to float around. A flight, including about five minutes of weightlessness, will cost each passenger $200,000.

It’s the first public display of any kind of SpaceShipTwo. The vehicle is being built under wraps by aviation designer Burt Rutan in California’s Mojave Desert, where its 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 will take off from California, and later at a proposed $225 million facility in New Mexico called Spaceport America.

Virgin Galactic is one of several startup companies that plan to rocket ordinary people into space. 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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