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Last Updated: Thursday January 24 2008 08:01 GMT

First look at tourist spaceship

SpaceShipTwo slung beneath White Knight Two (Virgin Galactic)

The final model of a spaceship which will let ordinary people go on out-of-the-world trips has been shown for the first time.

The billionaire behind it, Sir Richard Branson said test flights would start later this year and trips could start in 2010.

Called SpaceShipTwo, it can carry six passengers and two pilots some 110kms (68 miles) above the Earth.

But better start saving - tickets will cost about £100,000 each!

The amazing journey will start from a new centre called Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert in America.

Eight people will be on each flight

The spacecraft will be carried up into the air underneath a plane, called WhiteKnightTwo, and then released for the extraordinary trip.

The journeys will last about two-and-a-half hours from beginning to end.

Passengers on SS2 will climb up to an altitude of 110km, where they will get to experience being weightless for a few minutes, and see a great view of the Earth and the black of space.

Rocketing interest

The company, Virgin Galactic, says more than 200 people have booked, and another 85,000 have registered an interest to fly.


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Inside the 18.3m spaceship, there's a white trendy clutter-free look with seats that tip back to allow for a less jolting return into Earth's atmosphere and several round windows positioned from floor to ceiling.

At the moment the only way to buy a trip into space is to pay for a seat on the Russian Soyuz launcher.

Tickets are thought to cost about £12m and take you to the International Space Station for a short holiday.