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With spacecraft that can carry tourists into orbit and connect Paris to New York in less than two hours, the new heroes of space travel are not astronauts but daring captains of industry.The furthest advanced – and most highly publicized – private space project is led by Richard Branson, the British founder of the Virgin Group.His shuttle, SpaceShipTwo, will be launched at high altitude from a weird-looking four-engined mothership – which can carry two pilots and up to six passengers – before embarking on a three-hour suborbital flight. The new space business is not just about pandering to the whims of the rich, it also hopes to address a market for launching smaller satellites that weigh less than 250 kilograms.With a shuttle on the back of an Airbus A300, its founder Pascal Jaussi wants to start launching satellites before going into intercontinental passenger flights.
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