Coming Soon — Year Of The SpaceShip

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If you have someone on your gift list who's tough to buy for, Neiman Marcus has a suggestion in its 2007 Christmas Book -- a journey into space with Virgin Galactic, for yourself and five friends, going for $1,764,000. Besides three days of preflight training, astronauts will be treated to a four-day post-flight celebration as guests of Sir Richard Branson at his private luxury resort on Necker Island in the Caribbean. It's the "ultimate getaway ... genuinely out of this world," Neiman Marcus promises. Meanwhile, Virgin president Wil Whitehorn spoke at a space conference in the U.K. last week, and said he expects White Knight II to be ready for its first test flight in July 2008, according to Flight International. On Jan. 23, Virgin will unveil the designs for White Knight II as well as SpaceShipTwo. Both ships are already more than half finished, Whitehorn said. "White Knight II will look more like the Virgin Atlantic Globalflyer. We have built all the models to show the public [the finished design in January]," Whitehorn said.

Flight International also reported that Virgin may offer a launch service for satellites to low Earth orbit by 2015, using a third version of the White Knight aircraft design.