It's a spaceship Jim, but not as we know it

Well, Richard Beardy Branson has at last unveiled his bizarre looking Siamese triplets SpaceShipTwo (obviously whilst knowing a lot about space they haven't heard of the space bar) in California a couple of weeks ago. Possibly the most ungainly looking aircraft since the Wright Flyer, SpaceShipTwo is the central section sitting in the dual fuselage sub-orbital lifter known as White Knight Two.

Branson's Virgin Galactic has ordered five of the space planes and has named the first two Enterprise and Voyager (obviously a Trekkie). The actual spacecraft has a crew of two and can carry six passengers prepared to pay $200,000 per flight. Amazingly, Virgin claim that 65,000 people have applied for the first 100 tickets. The spaceship will have a ceiling of 110km (68 miles) and will give passengers six minutes of weightlessness in a two hour flight.

Although Agent Triple P is dubious about this really qualifying as space flight, Branson has plans for an orbital SpaceShipThree in the future.

I suppose that it is not that much of a stretch to then imagine an orbital hotel for really rich people who want to bonk in freefall. Certainly there is already at least one company looking to develop an orbital hotel.

Branson's original nose art

Branson has gone for one of his delightfully sexist pieces of nose art for the vessel although it has changed slightly from the initial version. The final young lady is in a much more contorted position: perhaps to better indicate the future possibilities of free fall sex.

The nose art from the VSS Enterprise

We wish Beardy Branson best wishes for his innovative space programme and just hope that he doesn't suffer some sort of Hindenburg moment which would stop civilian space travel in its tracks.

Personally, Agent Triple P wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.
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