Virgin Galactic is not only looking to put space tourists into orbit but satellites as well, with the company joining forces with another UK firm to come up with a cheaper way to launch the devices.

Along with Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL), Virgin Galactic will look to use a system that is comparable to the United States' Pegasus system – launching satellites into orbit from a plane.

The idea is that the same transport that takes the tourists – WhiteKnightTwo – could serve as the platform to put satellites into orbit for a fraction of the current cost.

Cheaper

"Hopefully we can do it for a lot less money than the current providers," SSTL's Dr Adam Baker told PA.

"It costs something like five million to 10 million dollars at the moment to get one of our smaller satellites into space. What we are targeting is to see if we can do this for a million dollars.

"I think that's a very challenging number but I'm confident we can get very close to that - and if you could build the satellite itself for a couple of million dollars, all of a sudden you've got a very attractive package for well under five million dollars that lets your customers do something pretty capable in orbit."