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Boeing's Aurora to build Virgin Galactic spaceship carrier plane

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WASHINGTON, July 6 (Reuters) - Virgin Galactic inked an agreement with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to build the company's new twin-fuselage carrier plane that will ferry its next-generation spaceship toward space, the companies announced on Wednesday.

Virgin Galactic, the space tourism firm founded by billionaire businessman Richard Branson, has been building a more durable, mass-producable successor to its flagship SpaceShipTwo spaceplane, which drops from the underbelly of a carrier plane before rocketing to the edge of space for a few minutes.

Aurora, Boeing's aeronautics and aviation research unit, will build two new carrier planes for the SpaceShipTwo successor, which Virgin Galactic calls Delta-class vehicles.

The new Delta-class ships are designed for faster production rates and to fly some 200 flights per year, the company has said.

(Reporting by Joey Roulette Editing by Chris Reese)