Virgin Galactic is getting closer to its first commercial flight, and in preparation for that, it has unveiled its new spaceship capable of suborbital flight. The first SpaceShip III is called VSS Imagine, and it currently being ground tested with the first glide flights coming this summer.
The new vehicle is designed towards a more efficient production compared to its predecessor VSS Unity, whose next test flight is happening on May 2021. The design improves maintenance access, which will be key to increase flight rate with the same vehicle. A second SpaceShip III is currently under construction and it will be called VSS Inspire.
“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. Congratulations to our dedicated team who worked so brilliantly to achieve this milestone,” Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said in a statement.
VSS Imagine has certainly struck a good futuristic look. Its mirror-like exterior, which provides extra thermal protection, is extremely cool. With the third generation of spaceships being rolled out, Virgin Galactic is getting a step closer to its future goal: each of its spaceports to have 400 flights per year.
VSS Imagine and VSS Unity will fly from Spaceport America in New Mexico.