Virgin Galactic unveils the WhiteKnightTwo
High-altitude aircraft carrier unveiled to the public along with a contest to win a ride.
The WhiteKnightTwo high-altitude aircraft carrier that will be used to launch a spaceship of Virgin Galactic passengers was unveiled Monday in Mojave, Calif.
The new spaceship carrier and launcher has been named Virgin Mothership Eve, after Richard Branson's own mother, Eve Branson.
The aircraft will be used to carry the SpaceShipTwo passenger plane to Earth's upper atmosphere. It's capable of climbing up to 50,000 feet.
In January the public was shown a small model and CGI images of what the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo might look like, but this is the first time the actual carrier itself has been seen by the public.
The VMS Eve is the largest aircraft to be made entirely of carbon composite components. At 140 feet the VMS Eve's wingspan is also "the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured," according to Virgin Galactic specs.
While Virgin Galactic's technology may be groundbreaking, its iconography is a bit old-fashioned. The company also unveiled Galactic Girl, an icon painted on the side of the VMS Eve that resembles a pin-up girl from the World War II era, only sporting a space helmet.
It's unclear whether SpaceShipTwo, the passenger space plane due to be unveiled in 2009, will sport a galactic-looking boy to match.
More details and photos on the Virgin Mothership Eve, as well as info on a new contest announced by Virgin America to let an average person win a spaceflight, can be found at CNET News.com.