Today the space tourism company Virgin Galactic unveiled the new model of its SpaceShipTwo, officially named the VSS Unity. On Thursday, we told you what you could expect from the new model, and today you can see pictures of the aircraft that will hopefully take paying customers to space.
The revamped model comes about 15 months after the reported crash of the first model called the VSS Enterprise, which took the life of one of the pilots and injured another.
Virgin founder Richard Branson said in statement about the new ship: “Together, we can make space accessible in a way that has only been dreamt of before now, and by doing so can bring positive change to life on Earth. Our beautiful new spaceship, VSS Unity, is the embodiment of that goal and will provide us with an unprecedented body of experience which will in turn lay the foundations for Virgin Galactic’s future. Her creation is also great testament to what can be achieved when true teamwork, great skill and deep pride are combined with a common purpose.”
Virgin Galactic added several features to the new model that make it a safer vehicle. For example, the system has added new safeguards that should prevent pilots from making egregious technical errors during flights.
The new model was unveiled today at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California, but no test flights have taken place yet. Will Pomerantz, the VP of Special Projects at Virgin Galactic, says that test flights are expected to take place later this year at an unspecified date. More than 700 people have already paid the $250,000 to reserve seats on the state of the art space vehicle, including Justin Bieber and Angelina Jolie.
Currently, the most pressing task for Virgin Galactic is to prove that the modifications made to the vehicle have indeed made it safer. Until then, dreaming about your space odyssey with Angelina Jolie will have to do.Photos via Mark Greenberg/Virgin, Twitter