Virgin Galactic wants the world to see the rocket motor that brought SpaceShipTwo to space.
Richard Branson’s commercial spaceflight company made history with the craft, named VSS Unity, when it skimmedin December.
The rocket motor was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, the company announced on Monday, and it’ll be exhibited in its Future of Spaceflight gallery.
Unfortunately, that gallery doesn’t open until 2024 so the motor will be displayed at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, for now. It’s likely the Smithsonian will gather items from other private spaceflight companies, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, in the meantime.
“The desire to explore space has been an inspiration since time began and, in recent decades, an incredible catalyst for innovation,” Branson said in a release.
“I hope our donation will also play a small part in inspiring the thousands of visitors as they pass through the new gallery in years to come.”
Virgin Galactic ultimately plans to take up space tourists, withhe intends to be one of the first passengers. We also know that they’ll be gear.
The test flight in December put Virgin Galactic a step ahead in the private space tourism race. SpaceX has ambitious plans to carry passengers around the moon and Blue Origin is conducting rocket tests, but both rival companies have yet to carry humans into space.
First published Feb. 11, 2019, 8:51 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:48 p.m. PT: Adds more background information.