Richard Branson, billionaire businessman and founder of Virgin Galactic, a spaceflight company, has introduced a new SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, VSS Unity. It was unveiled at the Mojave Air & Space Port, California, U.S.
The new spaceship has been in construction for three years and follows the tragic incident of its earlier spaceship that crashed during testing in 2014.
Well known physicist professor Stephen Hawking named the newly unveiled spaceship as Unity or Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity. "We are entering a new space age, and I hope this will help to create a new unity," he said, according to the Virgin Galactic's tweet. He also noted that he would be proud to fly VSS Unity if "he is able" and "Richard will take" him.
Virgin Galactic is at the forefront of promoting space tourism and will eventually launch its first commercial human spaceflight programme. The company said in a statement that this new spaceship has been subjected to rigorous test campaign in conformity with industry standard.
It also revealed that the spaceship will not be flying to space right away, but has to wait until all the full-vehicle tests are done. It is only later that the company will begin with captive flight test, moving to glide testing and later followed by rocket-powered test flights.
"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," Branson said in a statement put out on the official website.
"Our beautiful new spaceship, VSS Unity, is the embodiment of that goal also great testament to what can be achieved when true teamwork, great skill and deep pride are combined with a common purpose," he added.
CNN reported that over 700 people have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic's spaceship that costs $250,000 for a seat.