SpaceShipTwo is a reusable, winged spacecraft designed to carry eight people (including two pilots) into space safely and with high frequency.
SpaceShipTwo is powered by a hybrid rocket motor – combining elements of solid rockets and liquid rocket engines. Both types of rocket engine have important advantages; the hybrid aims to combine the simplicity of a solid motor with the controllability of a liquid. SpaceShipTwo’s rocket motor can be shut down quickly and safely at any point during the flight.
SpaceShipTwo's most innovative feature is its unique capability to change its shape in space to ensure a repeatable safe re-entry. By rotating its wings and tail booms upwards while in space, the vehicle’s stability and rate of deceleration in descent is controlled by aerodynamic forces. This “feathering” design takes the best from both the traditional capsule and winged space vehicle designs, and adds a little magic of its own. The “feathering” concept is often compared to a badminton shuttlecock or birdie – and proves that sometimes the most disruptive designs can emerge from the most humble of origins.
SpaceShipTwo’s cabin has been designed to maximize safety, comfort and astronaut experience. Exposure to G-forces during SpaceShipTwo’s ascent and descent is safely and comfortably managed thanks our custom-designed, articulated seats. The cabin is exceptionally spacious, with an interior specifically designed to optimize the out-of-seat zero gravity experience for our astronauts.
For many Virgin Galactic astronauts, the trip to space will be defined by the views. For this reason, SpaceshipTwo has more windows than any other spacecraft in history, allowing each astronaut to look out into the cosmos and back to our beautiful planet below – with a new perspective in each direction.
With the exception of the rocket motor’s fuel and oxidizer, which must be replenished after each flight, SpaceShipTwo is a fully reusable spacecraft.
Virgin Galactic’s current operational SpaceShipTwo, was the first to be manufactured by The Spaceship Company and named VSS Unity by Professor Stephen Hawking during an unveiling ceremony in 2016. For more information, please visit: https://www.virgingalactic.com/