US-based Virgin Galactic
yesterday unveiled VSS Imagine, the first of its next-generation Spaceship III which are set to expand its fleet as it gears up for commercial operations.
The spaceship showcases the company’s innovation in design and astronaut experience and demonstrates the progress it has made toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term. VSS Imagine will now commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
The new space ship has a brand new livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, it reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing color and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space.
Based on a modular design, the SpaceShip III class of vehicles are built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. This third generation of spaceship will lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.
Manufacturing is also progressing on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the new class of vehicles is an important milestone in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.
Michael Colglazier, Virgin Galactic CEO, said: “The SpaceShip III class of vehicles, mark the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet. VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning spaceships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight.”
Richard Branson, Virgin founder, added: “Virgin Galactic spaceships are built specifically to deliver a new, transforming perspective to the thousands of people who will soon be able to experience the wonder of space for themselves.
“As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”