US-based commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic has rolled out the first prototype of their Spaceship III-class spacecraft.
Christened the 'VSS Imagine,' the new ship is of a 'modular design' that is easier to maintain and reused, compared to the in-service VSS Unity.
In an interview with TechCrunch Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said about the new ship, "What you're seeing in the images, the choice of the livery, the film that we've put out, is a very clear step, as a consumer brand launch, and as we're stepping in and building that, that will build over the course of the summer as we build up towards Richard [Branson]'s flight,"
"Very purposefully, we've used these lofty words of 'democratizing space' — but space is meant for everyone. It may take a while, just for everyone to get there, but it's coming. And so this was leading with a very consumer-facing 'Why are we doing this?', " he said.
Imagine will be limited to ground testing for now, with plans to begin first glide flight tests this summer. The company is also making another Spaceship III-class vehicle, named 'VSS Inspire.'