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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
Visit examines space flight base
Virgin Galactic craft
Virgin Galactic is offering the prospect of private space travel
RAF Lossiemouth's suitability for space tourism flights is to be the focus of a fact-finding mission.

The president of Virgin Galactic, Will Whitehorn, is making what has been described as an informal visit to the Moray base.

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is assessing the possibility of launching commercial space journeys from RAF Lossiemouth as early as 2010.

Mr Whitehorn is expected to tour the base and meet personnel.

Virgin Galactic is investing $220m in a six-passenger craft called SpaceShipTwo.

Main base

It would be launched from the underside of a large jet, climb to 75 miles above the earth and then land on a runway in the same way as the space shuttle.

Mr Whitehorn previously told BBC Scotland that it was planned to have a main base in New Mexico and three other bases in other parts of the world.

"As far as the UK is concerned the only area that we have found that has all the right conditions is the north of Scotland," he said.

"It has relatively little overflying by aircraft, there are not people on the ground who could get injured and RAF Lossiemouth is an ideal location."


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