Virgin Galactic is about to send another ship into space
Virgin Galactic is preparing to put its replacement SpaceShipTwo craft into action for the first time since its predecessor broke up over the Mojave Desert in 2014. According to Bloomberg, the new ship – named Virgin Spaceship Unity (or VSS Unity for short) – will begin its test flights in August.
The ship itself was unveiled back in February and shares a similar design to its predecessor. Just as before, VSS Unity will launch in the air from a support aircraft to help it get into the skies. Full-powered independent test flights aren’t set to begin until 2017.
Despite this new ship, Virgin is yet to set a date for its first official flight. There are currently 700 passengers waiting to get their first taste of space after having paid $250,000 per ticket. As you can imagine, this flight is largely filled with the high-profile super-rich – any crash would be catastrophic for the company, so it won’t want to rush into a flight before it’s ready. Having missed so many previous target flight dates, Virgin Galactic decided it was best to leave things open.
Virgin Galactic also has a separate satellite business that uses repurposed Boeing 747 jumbo jets from Virgin Atlantic to launch rockets into the atmosphere. While it’s not clear how Virgin Galactic aims to do this, test flights of the system will also begin in 2017.