Virgin Galactic has unveiled the SS2, the world’s first manned commercial spaceship, which will take private astronauts into space upon completion.

The SS2, which began construction in 2007, will be ready for operation, after completing test flying programme, where it will be transformed into a new vehicle capable of carrying up to six passenger astronauts and up to two pilot astronauts into space on a sub-orbital flight.

The WK2 mothership, renamed Eve, will be attached to the SS2 during the unveiling, and will carry the SS2 to above 50,000ft (16km) before the spaceship is dropped, when it will fire its rocket motor to launch into space from that altitude.

The WK2 will be powered by four Pratt & Whitney PW308A engines, while the SS2, renamed the Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Enterprise, will be powered by a unique hybrid rocket motor, which is currently under development.

Easy access to WK2 and to the spaceship is provided to the passengers and crew by the twin fuselage and central payload area configuration, the design of which also helps operational efficiencies and turnaround times.