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SpaceShipTwo aims for space by year’s end

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo
Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity glides over California’s Mojave Desert. (Virgin Galactic Photo)

Virgin Galactic’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson, has been toning down his predictions about the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane’s future trips to space. Until now.

During a trip to Hong Kong to inaugurate a new Virgin Australia route from Melbourne, Branson said the second SpaceShipTwo, known as VSS Unity, “will be back in space by the end of the year.”

“I plan to go to space next year,” he told Australian Business Traveller.

Bloomberg News quoted Branson as saying that rocket-powered tests would be scheduled every three weeks, culminating in test flights to outer-space altitudes by November or December. Commercial passenger operations should start by the end of 2018, after Branson’s inaugural ride, he said in an interview.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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