A new modular design will “lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles”
Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (), the space tourism company founded by Richard Branson, has unveiled its third generation of spaceship and said it is gearing up for its next test flight in May after postponing plans due to engine troubles.
The VSS Imagine, a new modular design of spaceship, is beginning ground testing ahead of glide flights planned for this summer from the company’s New Mexico base.
Virgin Galatic said the modular design will “lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles”, enabling improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate as the company targets flying 400 flights per year per space-port once it gets fully up and running.
Last month, a crucial flight test was delayed, meaning the company is unlikely to begin accepting passengers until 2022, after further anomalies were discovered with its ignition systems.
While the VSS Imagine begins ground testing, the company is also fine-tuning the manufacture of the VSS Inspire, another of the third-generation space vehicles.
Chief executive officer Michael Colglazier said: “Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet.”
Branson 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.”