For research flights, the passenger seats would be removed and replaced by experiment racks

4 December 2012 Last updated at 04:24 ET

Virgin spaceship aims to be science lab

By Jonathan Amos
Science correspondent, BBC News, San Francisco

Sir Richard Branson wants his tourist spaceship also to become a high-altitude science platform.

The billionaire’s rocket plane will carry six fare-paying passengers just above the atmosphere to experience a few minutes of weightlessness.

But the vehicle has been designed so that its seats can be removed easily and the space filled with science gear.

Passenger flights should begin in 18 months or so; research sorties could start soon after.

The US space agency (Nasa) has already chartered the rocket plane.

“It’s likely we might do some science flights quite early in the programme,” explained Will Pomerantz from Virgin Galactic.

Read more: BBC News – Virgin spaceship aims to be science lab.

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