VSS Imagine ... the spaceship from Virgin Galactic
VSS Imagine ... the spaceship from Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, a space company affiliated with entrepreneur Richard Branson, has launched a new spacecraft called VSS Imagine.

VSS Imagine is the first spacecraft to be added to the company's growing sub-orbital fleet.

The company hopes to resume test flights at its New Mexico desert headquarters in the coming months.

The VSS Imagine design can be reused faster than SpaceShipTwo and is the current pillar of the company's efforts to enter space tourism in 2022.

VSS Imagine will be the first SpaceShip III to join the fleet, followed by Inspire, and we are working hard to make it a manufacturing hub, said Michael Kollglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic.

Functionally, SpaceShip III is identical to SpaceShipTwo from a company called VSS Unity.

But SpaceShip III is modular and should allow for faster response times, Kollglazier said.

He added: The way I designed VSS Imagine is that we can drag the panel to reach areas that might not have been easy to access previously through SpaceShipTwo.

VSS Imagine is preparing for its first skid test this summer at Spaceport America's facilities in New Mexico - it shot it down and brought it back to Earth via its carrier aircraft.

Design changes give SpaceShip III a faster update feature on SpaceShipTwo, indicating that Virgin Galactic has been focusing on production-intensive operations as the company prepares for its first flight in early 2022.

The spacecraft weighs slightly less than SpaceShipTwo, Kollglassier said, and the interior may look a little different: “What we learned from the VSS Unity flight test is listed in SpaceShip III.

The company's next test flight will be via SpaceShipTwo in May.

The test was postponed for a few months after an attempt to abandon testing in mid-December after the ship turned on its engine after landing in the air from its parent ship VMS Eve.

Last month, company employees said the cause of the failed attempt was electromagnetic interference from restarting the on-board computer.


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