Researchers ink space deal with Virgin Galactic

AP News
Posted: Feb 28, 2011 4:36 AM
Researchers ink space deal with Virgin Galactic

Space tourists aren't the only ones who want to fly aboard private rocketships.

A nonprofit research organization has signed a deal with Virgin Galactic to conduct experiments in suborbital space.

Virgin Galactic said Monday the Southwest Research Institute bought two tickets for its scientists to ride aboard the six-passenger SpaceShipTwo. Each ticket costs $200,000.

Engineers are flight testing SpaceShipTwo in California's Mojave Desert. There's no date for when commercial flights will begin.

Built by famed aerospace designer Burt Rutan, SpaceShipTwo is based on a prototype that won a $10 million prize in 2004 for being the first manned private rocket to reach space.