Virgin Galactic introduced the first of its SpaceShip III suborbital spaceplanes, named VSS Imagine, on Tuesday. The third generation SpaceShip features a modular design that will, the company says, “enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate.” Virgin Galactic is also in the process of building the second member of the SpaceShip III fleet, VSS Inspire.
“Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier. “VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight.”
According to Virgin Galactic, Imagine’s livery design includes a “mirror-like material” that reflects the environment around the aircraft. The spaceplane is expected to begin ground testing shortly with glide flights planned for this summer. Like previous SpaceShip generations, SpaceShip III models will launch from carrier aircraft, which ferry them to altitudes of up to 50,000 feet. SpaceShipTwo model VSS Unity is also scheduled for its next test flight in May.
i suppose this might have some practical applications at some time. I just don’t know what they are.
Making money. Taking people for rides (read that as you will) is VG’s sole purpose.
14 years late and counting.
I also don’t see much usefulness but it is a lovely piece of kinetic art. I think the idea of carrier aircraft also has merit.
$250,000 flight for burgers?
Did they mean to say 500,000 feet? Many of today’s jets can cruise above 50,000 feet.
The carrier aircraft carries the rocket to 50,000ft before launch. They sentence just isn’t especially clear.
When I find myself thinking “what good is it?” I have to remember something Thomas Edison said in 1895: “It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere.”
At some point in the early 1900s, it was suggested that the government should close down the patent office, because “everything of any importance has already been invented”.