Virgin territory Branson plans test of commercial spacecraft

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The Independent Online

Virgin Galactic's 'WhiteKnightTwo', the mothership of 'SpaceShipTwo', will take to the air for the first time in the next 10 days. Sir Richard Branson, pictured here with a model of the revolutionary, all-carbon composite, four-engine jet, hopes to be at the Mojave Air & Space Port in the Californian desert for the first flight and plans to make a test flight himself. Once the testing has been carried out, the mothership will move on to take 'SpaceShipTwo', the passenger rocket, which fits between its twin fuselages, for its first practice run. Virgin said 248 people have paid $200,000 (£130,000) each for flights, which could begin within two years.