Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic introduced the world SpaceShip Two, named the VSS Unity by Stephen Hawking, on Friday at Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert. Considering SpaceShipTwo’s crash in 2014 resulted in the pilot’s death, the new ship contains a number of safety measures and we think the more testing, the better.
Once the craft has fully checked out, Virgin Galactic plans to use it to ferry passengers up 50 miles above Earth’s surface – a height the company said will qualify them as “bona fide space tourists.”
Hawking is a huge proponent of private commercial spaceflight and includes himself as one of Virgin Galactic’s lucky $250,000 paying customers.
“I never thought I would have the opportunity to see our beautiful planet from space, or gaze down into the infinity beyond,” Hawking said in a recorded message played at the ceremony. “But I had reckoned without the dream of another, a man with the vision and persistence to opening up spaceflight for ordinary Earthbound citizens.”
The plans for this ship are for it to be the first Virgin Galactic ship that takes paid passengers to space, and the third and fourth ships are already under construction.