The VSS Imagine Spaceship
Announced in late March, the Imagine is part of the Spaceship III class. The space company plans to start ground testing activities for the VSS Imagine in New Mexico later in 2021. “Virgin Galactic spaceships are built specifically to deliver a new, transforming perspective to the thousands of people who will soon be able to experience the wonder of space for themselves. As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin.
The Spaceship III class is different from previous spaceships made by the company in a few respects. According to Spaceflight Insider, the new generation spacecraft is easier to manufacture and more durable.
Flying to 50,000 Feet and Beyond
Customers expecting a trip to the Moon or Mars will have to wait. The company is currently offering suborbital flights at this time. The first stage of flight involves flying with a conventional aircraft to an altitude of 50,000 feet.
The Spaceship III engines will be fired at that altitude to bring passengers up to a distance of just under 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Earth’s surface. The company spaceship is capable of carrying six passengers and two pilots. In contrast, SpaceX is working on a spacecraft — the Starship — capable of carrying up to 100 passengers to the Moon and Mars.
Virgin Galactic Revenue Collapse In 2020
The space business is earning revenue, but it has yet to develop a profitable business model. In 2019, the company reported a revenue of $3.8 million. Last year, the business had less than $1 million in revenue, according to a report filed with the SEC. The decreased revenue is driven by a fall in revenue from US government contracts.
The Growing Space Tourism Business
Virgin Galactic is one of the best-known brands in the space travel business. However, it is far from alone. Blue Origin, founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, is also working on a similar spaceship. The company is working on a six-passenger spacecraft known as the New Shepard, named after astronaut Alan Shepard. The sixty-foot tall rocket will launch from a location in Texas when it is ready for service.
According to the Market Study Report, the global space tourism business is worth more than $700 million as of 2019. By 2025, the space tourism business is projected to be worth $1.3 billion. Space Adventures, a business founded in 1998, offers passengers several space experiences, including a spacewalk and a visit to the Moon.
The business model has also prompted Boeing, a global aerospace company, to enter the space tourism field. In 2019, Boeing completed an uncrewed test flight of the Starliner, which was unsuccessful in docking with the International Space Station.
About the Author
Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book, "Project Managers At Work," shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.