Unveiling Virgin Galactic’s new spaceship, VSS Unity

Richard Branson unveiling Virgin Galactic's spaceship VSS Unity
Image by Jack Brockway
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 19 February 2016

Thrilling day in Mojave, helping to unveil Virgin Galactic’s new spaceship, VSS Unity. It was a real pleasure to be here at FAITH (Final Assembly Integration Test Hangar), surrounded by my family, to see the Virgin Galactic family showcase our newly completed SpaceShipTwo.

Richard Branson unveils Virgin Galactic's spaceship VSS Unity
Image by Jack Brockway

There were four generations of my family out in the desert today, with my mum Eve joining my son Sam and my grandchild Eva Deia to welcome the new spaceship in style. It also happens to be Eva Deia’s first birthday, and she was eager to mark the event in unique fashion. Rather than the traditional way of ‘launching’ an aircraft with a bottle of bubbly against the side, Eva Deia launched the spaceship with a bottle of milk. It was a sweet, proud moment for all of us.

The unveiling of VSS Unity
Image by Jack Brockway

As well as my family, it was wonderful to have two of the most inspiring people in the world to help mark the milestone. Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship Unity via a recorded speech and said, “I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship. We are entering a new space age and I hope, this will help to create a new unity.” Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai also shared some moving words about the importance of space to science and technical education – something all of us at Virgin Galactic are very passionate about.

Richard Branson with his son Sam Branson, daughter-in-law Bellie Branson and granddaughter Eva-Deia at the unveiling of VSS Unity smashing a bottle of milk on the nose of the spacecraft
Image by Jack Brockway

It was great to see so many of our Future Astronauts at Mojave to witness the unveiling of VSS Unity, as well as so many of our incredible Virgin Galactic team. I am so proud of the team not only for their passion and commitment in a pioneering endeavour but also because we are building teams and companies to get there. The new SpaceShipTwo is the first vehicle to be manufactured by The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic's wholly owned manufacturing arm, and is the second vehicle of its design ever constructed. 

Now that the spaceship is ready to be tested as a complete vehicle, the team will start integrated ground vehicle testing followed by flight tests in Mojave and ground and air exercises at its future home in Spaceport America, New Mexico. 

Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity revealed to an audience
Image by Mark Greenberg

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. Our beautiful new spaceship, with its stunning silver and white livery, is the embodiment of that goal and will provide us with an unprecedented body of experience which will in turn lay the foundations for Virgin Galactic’s future. Her creation is also great testament to what can be achieved, when true teamwork, great skill and deep pride are combined with a common purpose.

As for what’s next? VSS Unity will join our fleet with the WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve for human spaceflight and the 747-400 Cosmic Girl for the LauncherOne small satellite launch service. The Spaceship Company has already started work on the next SpaceShipTwo. Watch this space.