Richard Branson Unveils Space Travel Mothership

Dennis Faas's picture

British businessman and publicity hog Richard Branson recently revealed the first of two aircraft capable of carrying tourists into space. The new, high-altitude jet will act as a sky-bound home base for spacecraft that take two crew and six passengers on sub-orbital flights.

Dubbed "Eve", the aircraft was recently unveiled amidst space fans and engineers a Mojave Desert hangar. Branson's Virgin Galactic is behind the project, which contracted aerospace designer Burt Rutan to complete both Eve and the spaceship that will launch from Eve.

Although the number of space nuts having already paid $200,000 each to take part in the earliest flights is already nearing 300, a few obstacles remain before sub-orbital tourism becomes a reality. Eve, or "WhiteKnightTwo 'Eve'" will face a series of exhaustive tests starting in the fall. Branson expects Rutan's designs to pass with flying colors, and tentatively plans the maiden voyage for about a year and a half from now. (Source:

Eve is a white, four-engine jet that will connect with Rutan's spacecraft (known as "SpaceShipTwo") by cradling the latter under its wing. From there, Eve will release the spacecraft and its eight occupants 50,000 feet in the air.

Branson was clearly excited at the unveiling. "We are naming it Eve after my mother, Eve Branson, but also because it represents a first and a new beginning, the chance for our ever-growing group of future astronauts and other scientists to see our world in a completely new light," he said. "Let's go 20 years forward, if all of this goes to plan, I hope that we will have a hotel in space; and in that hotel I hope we will have small spaceships that can go around the Moon". (Source:

Though SpaceShipTwo is only 70% complete, Branson is certainly convinced his venture, "The Spaceship Company", will rope in enough millionaires to make sub-orbital travel a legitimate business model.

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