Billionaire space buff investor Richard Branson is moving ahead with his plan to create a commercial space travel system: the WhiteKnightTwo mothership aircraft, and the SpaceShipTwo spaceship.

A portion of the Virgin Galactic system was rolled out today at Mojave, Calif..

WhiteKnightTwo, called Eve, was rolled out. It will carry SpaceShipTwo aloft, where it will blast off for suborbital flights. Space tourists might pay $200,000 or so for the trip.

Burt Rutan, CEO of Scaled Composites, led design of the system.

(For full story and picture, please see Space & Missile Defense Report, Monday, Jan. 28, 2008.)

Commercial space flights are coming closer to reality. NASA is providing seed money to rival firms, SpaceX and Orbital, to design cargo haulers that could run logistics missions to the International Space Station in the half decade from 2010 to 2015 when NASA won’t have any spaceship to take supplies to the orbiting station. Those firms at some later point also might develop crew-carrying capabilities.