The world's first commercial spacecraft was officially unveiled on Monday afternoon.
Photos shot for Boing Boing by Alan Radecki
, photographer and Mojave aviation and space historian.
The craft will take six tourists at a time to the edge of space. Each seat is $200,000, requires the traveler to pass a strenuous physical, and offers just a few minutes of zero-G flight.
The Mojave desert is home to Virgin Galactic's research and development base. Its commercial spaceport is to be built in New Mexico.
Entrepreneur Richard Branson and engineer Burt Rutan's dream is to kickstart private space exploration. Test flights will begin almost immediately.
Earlier in the day, an ice-sculptor's work reflects similarly cold conditions two hours east of L.A., lashed by heavy rains before the unveiling.
Journalists gathered for the event, bussed out on coaches to what one correspondent described as a "goat rodeo."
Guests were evacuated early from the event due to wind advisory, Radecki said ... "Current winds, 53, gusting to 60!"
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson were among the attendees.
The "badminton cock" design allows SpaceShipTwo to re-enter the atmosphere as slower speeds than the Shuttle, producing less heat.
Branson, Rutan and their families will get to enjoy the first official journey into space. There's already a huge list of reservations for the twice-daily flights thereafter.
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