SpaceShipTwo (SS2) uses all the same basic technology, carbon composite construction and design as SpaceShipOne (SS1). However it is around twice as large as that vehicle and will carry six passengers and two pilots. It is 18.3 m (60 ft) long with a 2.28 m (90") diameter cabin which is similar in size to a Falcon 900 executive jet albeit with no floor dissecting the cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.
SpaceShipTwo is carried to its launch altitude of approximately 15 km (approx. 45,000 ft) by the purpose-built carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo (WK2). This climb up to altitude takes around an hour. SpaceShipTwo is subsequently air-launched from the carrier and fires its rocket motor, executing a turn for a steep climb which lasts ~70 seconds before the motor shuts down. SpaceShipTwo then follows a typical ballistic arc and deploys its 'feathered' configuration for re-entry. Following ~70 seconds of re-entry and descent into the atmosphere, SS2 de-feathers and glides to a horizontal landing at its launch base.
SpaceShipTwo will have a baseline seat for tourism operations and baseline rack for individual (direct passenger replacement) payloads. Different payloads and racks can be accomodated and both the system and operations are flexible in both payload and mission profile. Experiments can also be mounted in unpressurized bays of SpaceShipTwo for research requiring direct access to the space environment, e.g. atmospheric sampling or exposure to the external spaceflight environment.
For more information about the SpaceShipTwo platform, please contact Virgin Galactic.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: NASA is reviewing its policy on human-tended payloads and will provide an update to this website in the future.
HTHL / Piloted
6 passengers / 2 pilots
TYPICAL FLIGHT DURATION
TYPICAL DURATION OF MICROGRAVITY
USEFUL PAYLOAD MASS
DATA STORAGE PROVIDED
Spaceport America, NM
Access to external environment
Reduced gravity capability
Middeck locker compatible
Windowed access to the outside