On Tuesday, Virgin unveiled the first SpaceShip III in its expanding fleet, VSS Imagine, that will capitalize on space tourism by taking passengers to low Earth orbit.
"For us to make the business start to scale, at the places that we're aspiring towards, we need two things: 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 [turnaround times between flights] than what we have with Unity," Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier told CNBC.
The expansion of Virgin's fleet is an essential milestone towards allowing everyone's access to space (well, for those who can afford it).
Virgin will commence ground testing, with glide flights of VSS Imagine later this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
The breakthrough livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing color and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space. Along with providing thermal protection, this dynamic material is naturally appealing to the human eye, reflecting our inherent human fascination with space and the transformative experience of spaceflight.