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Virgin Galactic Takes Wraps Off New VSS Imagine Ship

VSS Imagine is the first of Virgin Galactic's third-generation spaceships with a new livery design.
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Virgin Galactic  (SPCE)  unveiled the VSS Imagine Tuesday, the company's first third-generation, or SpaceShip III, craft in its growing fleet with what the company calls a "breakthrough" livery design.

The ship is designed to mirror its surrounding environment as it moves to space from earth. It is part of the company's SpaceShip III line that Virgin hopes will allow it to fly 400 flights per year

The new ship will begin ground testing and glide flights this summer from the company's Spaceport America hub in New Mexico. At the same time, Virgin has commenced manufacturing of VSS Inspire, the second in the SpaceShip III line of vehicles. 

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"As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic's growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.," Virgin founder Richard Branson said. 

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Virgin currently has a test flight scheduled for its VSS Unity ship planned for May 2021. 

The new VSS Imagine is finished entirely with a mirror-like material that reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing color and appearance as it moves out of earth's atmosphere.

"VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight," said CEO Michael Colglazier. 

Virgin shares were falling close to 3% to $28.91 in premarket trading Tuesday after closing Monday's session down 1.3%.