Virgin galactic vss imagine spaceship

First Look at the Insane Virgin Galactic VSS Imagine Spaceship

“For us to make the business start to scale, at the places that we’re aspiring towards, we need two things,” says Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier. “We need many more ships than we have right now and we also need the ships that we bring forward to be built in a way that they’re able to be maintained in a way that we can have much quicker than what we have with Unity.” In order to achieve those two elements of success, Virgin Atlantic has unveiled their latest spacecraft, the VSS Imagine. The new addition to the fleet is the third spacecraft built by Virgin Galactic and “has been designed in a way that’s taken the learnings we’ve had from all the flight testing on Unity.”

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Virgin atlantic spaceship vss imagine

Imagine was designed to be a more “modular” spacecraft, which allows for it to be built much more quickly than the Unity spacecraft was. The modular approach allows construction to happen in sections rather than building the whole craft at once. “The fuselage, cabin, the wing body, the flat plane form of the wings, and then the tail booms—all were built separately,” explains Colgalzier.

But while the craft is built in this way, it’s still a time and labour-intensive process. Colglazier calls the Imagine a “fairly handcrafted piece,” and production level tooling is still on its way. As they get closer to perfecting this process, Virgin Galactic will be able to launch what they are calling the Delta class spaceships, which can be built in parallel. At that point, Colglazier says they will be “where I think we hit scale on the manufacturing front.”

1 virgin galactic vss imagine spaceship

“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,” says Richard Branson, Virgin founder. “As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”

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