With the VSS Imagine, the US space company Virgin Galactic has presented a new space glider that is said to be more powerful than its predecessor and also differs on the outside thanks to its reflective surface. The VSS Imagine is the first SpaceShip III and they are already working on the next, the VSS Inspire. The presentation of the new model is a milestone on the way to the planned 400 flights into space that will be carried out annually. With the VSS Imagine, you can show what progress you have already made along the way, in design and in the production process, assures Virgin Galactic. So far, this path has been characterized by several setbacks and years of delays.
Haven’t reached space yet
Virgin Galactic has been working to offer tourist flights into space for years. The death of a test pilot in a crash significantly delayed the original schedule, but test flights have been taking place again for several years. So far, however, only space has been reached, based on the US definition, according to which it starts at 50 miles (about 80 kilometers). The internationally recognized limit is 100 kilometers. Before the most recent test flight last December, there was speculation as to whether this limit would now be reached, but then the flight was canceled prematurely.
Virgin Galactic’s space gliders are suspended from a carrier aircraft, where they are released and ignite their own engines. They should then fly briefly into space, where passengers can enjoy the view and minutes of weightlessness. One seat is now available for US $ 250,000, and those who book five get the sixth for free. Hundreds have already booked flights and remain loyal to the company despite the delays. Most recently, a test flight scheduled for February was postponed to May. The shares of the first space tourism company on the stock exchange then went down on their knees.