In California yesterday, space tourism company Virgin Galactic unveiled a craft designed to carry passengers on short flights into space.

800 press, future astronauts and VIP guests gathered in the desert for a press conference and to view the roll out of the world’s first commercial spaceline.

The design of SpaceShipTwo will be refined during an extensive test flying programme to commence shortly.

It will carry up to six passenger astronauts and up to two pilot astronauts into space on a sub-orbital flight.

The Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space flight will include three days of training including full G-force acclimatisation and fitness assessment.

The flight itself will be a two-hour sub-orbital experience, which will be followed by a launch at 50,000 feet (about 10 miles) above earth.

After accelerating to Mach 3.3 in 30 seconds in a vertical ascent, SpaceShipTwo will slow to reach 68 miles into space from where passengers can view the Earth below from their zero gravity position.

The craft is expected to begin flights for passengers in 2011. Price: $200,000 / passenger.

Source: TTGlive - Photos : Mark Greenberg