Virgin Galactic SpaceShip III VSS Imagine

Richard Branson’s space travel dream will take off this year and joining the fleet that will fly (very rich) folks to the realm of space is the new VSS Imagine, the first SpaceShip III spaceship.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip III VSS Imagine

Virgin Galactic has unveiled yet another spaceship, called SpaceShip III. Aesthetically, the Spaceship III looks very much like the SpaceshipTwo, but it has a modular design for improved performance, including flight rate of 400 trips each year, said the space tourism company.

While visually similar to the SpaceShipTwo, the VSS Imagine stands out with a striking livery: a shiny mirror-like exterior which serves to offer thermal protection as well as to, well, mirror the surrounding environment as it travels from Earth to Space.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip III VSS Imagine

I can imagine the experience of watching the VSS Imagine transitioning from Earth atmosphere to suborbital space will be quite a sight to behold with this mirror-finished spaceship.

The new SpaceShip III VSS Imagine will commence the process of ground testing soon, with glide flights this summer from Virgin’s Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip III VSS Imagine

Meanwhile, the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, which was revealed in 2016, will continue with its next flight test in May 2021.

Manufacturing on the next SpaceShip III, VSS Inspire, will progress as VSS Imagine begins its ground testing.

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Richard Branson is expected to fly to space later this year before space tourism officially kicks off, also in this year.

All images courtesy of Virgin Galactic.