Virgin Galactic unveiled a new spacecraft called VSS Imagine designed to reflect the environment around it as it moves through clouds, on its way to space, and this new space plane is the third generation of aircraft developed by the New Mexico-based company Virgin Galactic.
According to the British newspaper “Daily Mail”, it is scheduled to start flights within the Earth’s atmosphere from VSS Imagine this summer in the skies of New Mexico, followed by sub-orbital flights in the following years if the early tests are successful.
Founder Sir Richard Branson will also fly to the edge of space by the end of the summer, the company has confirmed, aboard VSS Unity, the current second-generation space plane, and the vehicle that will be commercially operational in early 2022.
Virgin Galactic will also operate two test flights starting in May, the first with two pilots only, and the second carrying a full crew to the edge of space.
No details have been revealed about the cost of the new space plane, or the price of tickets, but SpaceShipTwo is rumored to have cost around $ 400 million (£ 290 million) to develop, and the VSS Imagine is the first space plane to be based on a Spaceship III class.
Virgin Galactic says the new space plane showcases corporate innovation in design and astronaut experience, adding that it demonstrates progress toward design and efficient production.
The new generation vehicle is designed to expand its range more easily, with the production of a similar aircraft, the VSS Inspire, already starting in California.