Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, the world’s ‘first commercial spaceline’, has announced that it has reached a major milestone in the building of its second spacecraft.
The company has referred to this as the ‘weight on wheels’ milestone, which means that all of the crafts major structural elements have been assembled, the main landing gear has been deployed and it is carrying its own weight for the first time at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
The next step is ‘integrated vehicle ground testing’, to ‘verify the integrity of all systems’ ahead of flight testing.
Virgin Galactic’s other spacecraft, Unity, has already undertaken two test flights to space, ahead of commercial operation.
“We now have two spaceships which are structurally complete, with our third making good progress,” said Virgin Galactic‘s chief executive George Whitesides.
“These spaceships are destined to provide thousands of private astronauts with a truly transformative experience by performing regular trips to space.”
It’s hoped that commercial space flights will begin later in 2020.
Image credit: Virgin Galactic