How desperate are we to learn about SS2?

So desperate, it seems, that we’ve turned to the movies for insight? In a blog post,’s Tariq Malik notes that a new ad for the upcoming summer blockbuster Superman Returns features a spacecraft, presumably the Virgin Galactic spacecraft piloted by Richard Branson in his cameo appearance in the film. “But is it SpaceShipTwo or just another Hollywood spaceship with Branson at the wheel?” Malik asks. Based on the screen grabs from the ad, the answer would be no. Previous reports have all suggested that SS2 will be a scaled-up version of SS1, but the spacecraft in the movie looks more like a scaled-down cousin of the shuttle (or an X-38-like derivative): note in particular the shuttle-like cluster of engines in the back. This vehicle in particular would not be able to perform the “carefree” reentry mode by raising its wings and tail section, like SS1; Burt Rutan has been adamant that this is one of the breakthroughs that made SpaceShipOne possible. The carrier aircraft also looks like a modified jumbo jet than a version of White Knight.

I have to admit that, when I saw the trailer for the movie in a theater a week ago, I wondered for an instant it that might be the Virgin Galactic vehicle said to appear in the movie. The next instant, I wondered if Richard Branson would find a way to make it into the trailer (no, he didn’t, at least in that one.) Then the scene shifted and Kate Bosworth showed up on the screen, and I forgot all about spaceships and Branson.

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