VSS Unity was unveiled at FAITH (Final Assembly Integration Test Hangar), Virgin Galactic’s human space flight programme’s testing ground. VSS Unity was decked in silver and white livery, and guided into position by a support Range Rover provided by exclusive automotive partner Land Rover. Professor Stephen Hawking named it Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity through a recorded speech, and would be very proud to fly on it.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai sent in a video message that accorded importance of space to science and technical education.
SpaceShipTwo is the first vehicle manufactured by The Spaceship Company, and the second vehicle of its design ever constructed.
SpaceShipTwo build process got underway back in 2012. Each component part has undergone rigorous testing before assembly. The Spaceship Company will now undertake VSS Unity’s integrated systems verification, and ground and flight tests. Work on the next SpaceShipTwo has begun.
SpaceShipTwo will carry two pilots and up to six passengers to space. The space flight experience begins with an air launch followed by a rocket-powered ascent at three and a half times the speed of sound, silence of space, out-of-seat weightlessness experience, and views of earth.
As of now, Virgin Galactic spaceline fleet consists of VSS Unity and two dedicated carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve for human spaceflight and 747-400 Cosmic Girl for LauncherOne small satellite launch service.
Richard Branson looks forward to making space accessible in real way, and to herald positive change to life on Earth. VSS Unity will lay the foundations for the company’s future.
Virgin Galactic CEO George T. Whitesides spoke of opening space to people from all walks of life.
Professor Stephen Hawking said, “A man with the vision and persistence to open up space flight for ordinary, earth-bound citizens, Richard Branson made it his mission to make space flight a reality for those intrepid enough to venture beyond the boundaries of the Earth’s atmosphere. I have had ALS for over fifty years now and while I have no fear of adventure, others do not always take the same view. If I am able to go – and if Richard will still take me, I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship. Space exploration has already been a great unifier – we seem able to cooperate between nations in space in a way we can only envy on Earth. We are entering a new space age and I hope this will help to create a new unity.”