With the wingspan of a B-29 bomber, the WhiteKnightTwo is the largest all-carbon-fiber aircraft ever built. Its mission is to carry a smaller craft, SpaceShipTwo, and drop it at 48,000 feet, where it will blast off into suborbital space with paying passengers—in 2010, if all goes well. Virgin Galactic’s CEO, Richard Branson, also wants to use WhiteKnightTwo as a low-cost way to launch satellites into orbit. Scaled Composites engineers had to overcome numerous setbacks, including a fatal explosion at the company’s headquarters, to finish the craft. virgingalactic.com
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