On Tuesday, March 30, Virgin Galactic unveiled the Company’s first Spaceship III in its growing fleet, VSS Imagine, according to a release from the company.
“The spaceship showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience,” the release states. “Imagine also demonstrates progress toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term. VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America.”
The livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing color and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space. Along with providing thermal protection the release states, “this dynamic material is naturally appealing to the human eye, reflecting our inherent human fascination with space and the transformative experience of spaceflight.”
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.
As VSS Imagine begins ground testing, manufacturing will progress on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the Spaceship III class of vehicles kicks off Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.
Future Astronauts are invited to be part of every step along the Virgin Galactic journey. One of Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts, Dee Chester, had a unique opportunity to play her part in the rollout of VSS Imagine, as her Astronaut Edition Range Rover towed the new spaceship out of the hangar for the first time.