Credit: Virgin Galactic

Credit: Virgin Galactic

The passenger-carrying VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo was unveiled last week in the FAITH (Final Assembly Integration Test Hangar), the Mojave, California-based home of manufacturing and testing for Virgin Galactic’s human space flight program.

That VSS Unity name was given to the suborbital spaceship by noted astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking.

During the February 19th rollout festivities, Hawking said that he once confessed that his ultimate ambition was to fly into space, “but I thought no one would take me.”

Richard Branson offered Hawking a seat on a suborbital SpaceShipTwo, a proposition that the scientist responded to by an immediate yes.

“Since that day, I have never changed my mind. If I am able to go – and if Richard will still take me, I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship,” Hawking said via a pre-recorded video at the Mojave ceremonies.

Watching eye

“The first private astronauts will be pioneers. The first flights are expensive. But over time, I hope that space flight will become within the reach of far more of the Earth’s population,” Hawking said.

Virgin Spaceship Unity is unveiled in Mojave, California, Friday February 19th, 2016. Credit:  Jack Brockway/Virgin Galactic

Virgin Spaceship Unity is unveiled in Mojave, California, Friday February 19th, 2016.
Credit: Jack Brockway/Virgin Galactic

Branson added in the unveiling of the new SpaceShipTwo that the “Galactic Girl” on the side of Spaceship Unity now carries a banner using an image of Hawking’s eye.

“This watching eye remind us not only of his part in our journey but of the unique human experience that space provides,” Branson said.

700 reserved seats

Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial spaceline. Founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, Virgin Galactic has signed up 700 men and women from over 50 countries—greater than the total number of humans who have ever been to space—that have reserved places to fly on Virgin Galactic’s reusable space launch system, consisting of carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo and spacecraft SpaceShipTwo.

SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo are manufactured and tested in Mojave, California by its manufacturing wing, The Spaceship Company. Spaceflight operations will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

NOTE: To view the Hawking message, published on February 20, 2016, go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I87wIVudw9k

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