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Richard Branson gives inside tour of Virgin Galactic's Unity spacecraft
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Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson gave an inside look at the aerospace company's prized VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo on Tuesday.
Branson told NBC's "Today" show he had always "envisioned" a spaceship like the sleek VSS Unity's design as a kid.
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"I just thought that's how you should fly to space," he said.
While the VSS Unity appeared to be resting at the company's spaceport in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the shiny white spacecraft is gearing up for another rocket-powered test flight.
This time, the launch will include six "Unity 22" crew members, including the 70-year-old Branson himself.
The VSS Unity and its mothership VMS Eve – named after Branson's mother – climb together to an altitude just below 50,000 feet before the spaceship is released and its rocket ignites, sending the craft up "a little over Mach 3" to approximately 300,000 feet above Earth.
"The planet peers back at you through the ship’s 17 windows as you see home for the first time," the spaceflight company said on its website. "16 cameras throughout the cabin record every moment of the experience in HD."
Upon reentry, the VSS Unity's wings raise 60 degrees before lowering again after the ship descends into the atmosphere and the pilot lands on the runway – as exhibited in a successful test at the end of May following delays.