Virgin Galactic's 2nd SpaceShipTwo Lowers Its Landing Gear (Photo)

SpaceShipTwo First Landing Gear Lowering
Virgin Galactic's second SpaceShipTwo lowers its landing gear for the first time while under construction in Mojave, California. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic's second SpaceShipTwo passenger ship is coming together, with the commercial spaceliner lowering its landing gear for the first time last week. 

SpaceShipTwo lowered its landing gear on May 21 in the ship's construction hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Virgin Galactic plans to use a fleet of suborbital SpaceShipTwo spacecraft to fly paying passengers on roundtrip space missions.

"Still much to be done, but it's looking great," Virgin Galactic representatives wrote in a Twitter post. Virgin Galactic's construction arm, The Spaceship Company, is building the craft for the space tourism company.

The announcement comes more than five months after the tragic crash of Virgin Galactic's first SpaceShipTwo vehicle during a test flight over the Mojave Desert on Oct. 31. During that test, one SpaceShipTwo test pilot was killed and another seriously injured when the spacecraft's braking mechanism was deployed too early, while the spacecraft's rocket engine was still firing.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is designed to launch eight people (six passengers and two pilots) into suborbital space and then return to Earth to make a runway landing. The spacecraft will be carried into launch position by the high-altitude WhiteKnightTwo, which serves as the mothership for the suborbital space plane. 

Hundreds of would-be space travelers have reserved tickets for a SpaceShipTwo flight, including celebrities like actor Ashton Kutcher and singers Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber. Tickets for a SpaceShipTwo seat are available for $250,000. 

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.