“I have always dreamed of space flight, but for so many years I thought it was just that…a dream,” says Stephen Hawking in the above Virgin Galactic video. Richard Branson’s company released the clip (along with another starring Malala Yousafzai) to commemorate the unveiling of their new Virgin Spaceship Unity.
Friday’s massive event may mean that VSS Unity has passed its initial testing phase, but the company assures that it still hasn’t been cleared for commercial flights. The design won’t be launched until Virgin has run “her through full-vehicle tests of her electric systems and all of her moving parts. We already know these things work individually, but one can’t simply assume they will all work together.” The next phase will be to perform a “captive carry flight,” where the Unity will stay attached to her mothership, the WhiteKnightTwo. “Once that is completed, we’ll move to glide testing, where our new spaceship flies freely for the first time as a glider coming home from an altitude of 45,000+ feet (14 km) while our incredible pilots test out her handling.”
Considering SpaceShipTwo’s crash in 2014 resulted in the pilot’s death, we think the more testing, the better.