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Virgin Galactic debuts the next SpaceShipTwo on February 19th

Virgin Galactic revives its hopes for private spaceflight in just over a month.

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Virgin Galactic is still reeling from the tragic loss of a crew member in its 2014 SpaceShipTwo crash, but it's nearly ready to soldier on. The private spaceflight pioneer is rolling out and naming the second version of SpaceShipTwo on February 19th, roughly 15 months following the accident. The new machine is largely similar to its predecessor, but it reflects the lessons learned from its predecessor: it has safety measures that should prevent the tail booms from extending prematurely and throwing the craft out of control.

The event may be relatively star-studded. Virgin chief Richard Branson has invited Stephen Hawking to the event, and he's even offering a free ride (when service begins in earnest) to the famed scientist if his health allows. There are a lot of "ifs" involved here, but the company is clearly bent on repairing its bruised reputation.

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