Virgin Galactic unveiled its newest spacecraft that will take tourists to suborbital space - check out the VSS Imagine
Virgin Galacticunveiled its latest spacecrafton Tuesday, the VSS Imagine.
- It's the first of a new class of vehicles the firm is developing for suborbital
- VSS Imagine will begin testing this summer, the company said.
Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic on Tuesday unveiled its newest spacecraft, the VSS Imagine. It's the first of the company's third-generation SpaceShip III vehicles.
The commercial-spaceflight company will begin testing the spacecraft this summer, conducting ground tests and glide flights out of its Spaceport America in New Mexico, it said. Virgin plans to fly tourists into suborbital space and hopes to eventually facilitate 400 flights a year at each of its spaceports.
The new vehicle is integral to those plans, according to Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier.
"Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III Class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet. VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight," he said in a statement.
The new vehicle has a more modular design than its predecessors, making it easier to maintain and reducing the time between flights, Virgin said. VSS Imagine will "lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles," the company said.
The VSS Imagine has a mirrored finish that provides "thermal protection" and gives the spacecraft a striking look, Virgin said. While VSS Imagine undergoes testing, Virgin will start production on its next SpaceShip III vehicle, VSS Inspire.
VSS Imagine is Virgin Galactic's third spacecraft. Its first spaceship, VSS Enterprise, was obliterated in a fatal crash in 2014. Its second ship, VSS Unity, last flew in February 2019 and is set to undergo a test flight in May.
Hundreds of people have already paid Virgin Galactic $200,000 to $250,000 for tickets to suborbital space.
Shares of Virgin Galactic rose about 3% in trading Tuesday after the new craft's announcement.
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