Spaceships: When the world first envisioned the future of space travel decades ago, our collective imaginations conjured up images of shiny, sleek shuttles capable of transporting us far beyond our solar system. While we're still quite a ways from achieving the latter, Virgin Galactic is already working toward the former with its all-new class of eye-catching space vessels: "SpaceShip III."
Virgin revealed the first ship in this class today: the VSS Imagine. The vessel, which could begin flight tests as early as this year, is simply stunning as spacecraft go. It features a gorgeous chromatic finish, turquoise accents, and a sleek, seemingly aerodynamic body.
The shiny metallic exterior is, according to Virgin Galactic, intended to let the Imagine "mirror the surrounding environment" as it transitions from the familiar atmosphere of Earth to the cold vacuum of Space.
Aside from being visually impressive, the exterior also provides extra thermal protection, which will certainly be handy for a vessel that plans to travel beyond Earth's protective cloud layer.
Virgin Galactic says the Imagine leverages a "modular design," which apparently allows for improved flight rate and maintenance access performance, whatever that means.
Imagine is expected to commence ground testing soon through a series of "glide flights." Once those tests commence, Virgin will begin the manufacturing process for its second SpaceShip III-class vehicle; the VSS Inspire.
We look forward to seeing the VSS Imagine in action, and for Virgin's sake, we hope its first glide tests go well. If they do, we'll be sure to update you here, so stay tuned.