Page last updated at 21:37 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 22:37 UK

In pictures: Space tourism jet

Richard Branson (L) and Burt Rutan wave during the official launch of Virgin Galactic's White Knight Two

British businessman Richard Branson has unveiled an aircraft designed for his company's project to launch tourists into space.

Richard Branson (R) and Burt Rutan joke with team members during the official launch of Virgin Galactic's White Knight Two

The launch ceremony took place in the Mojave Desert at the headquarters of a California-based aerospace company run by engineer Burt Rutan.

Artist's impression of the Virgin White Knight Two carrier aircraft and the SpaceShipTwo

The high-altitude jet will act as the mothership for a spacecraft, releasing it at 50,000 feet to take two crew and six passengers on sub-orbital flights.

Detail of White Knight Two

The aircraft has been christened Eve after Mr Branson's mother and has a helmeted blonde woman as its motif.

Richard Branson at the unveiling of White Knight Two with his mother Eve Branson

Mr Branson has said that he and his family will be among Virgin Galactic's first space travellers. The voyage will cost tourists $200,000 (100,000) each.




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