If you have paid Virgin Galactic US$250,000 to reserve a seat on a flight to the edge of space, have you thought ‘Do I get a window seat or not?
Virgin Galactic says it has all bases covered in the cabin of its VSS Unity SpaceshipTwo, which it unveiled in a virtual media tour on Tuesday, nine months after launching Virgin Galactic on the New York Stock Exchange.
Six passengers in one-piece blue jumpsuits designed by Under Armour will have two “halo” windows each — one on the side and the other directly above — to enjoy the view of Earth from an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles). Two cameras are placed around the seat that will capture their experience, “like on a roller coaster ride” reported Observer.
Individually sized seats have been made to match the dynamism of the flight. A pilot-controlled recline mechanism positions the paying passengers to manage G-forces on boost and re-entry and frees up cabin space to maximise an unrestricted float zone when in zero gravity, Virgin Galactic stated.
The two pilots will be able to recline all six passenger seats to help them better manage the forces of gravity, which can reach four times that of the Earth’s surface, on ascent and re-entry.
To further elevate the experience of floating in zero-gravity, the cabin includes a large, circular mirror on the aft bulkhead which, by adding a tint to the reflective surface, allows astronauts to view themselves weightless while illuminated by the natural brightness of the Earth.
“At the pinnacle of the experience, as the Earth comes into view against the black sky of space, all lighting is extinguished, bringing an instant focus to the profoundly beautiful vista,” the company said.
The VSS Unity’s cabin has a dozen windows to offer vistas of the Earth, together with 16 cameras to capture videos and still images.
“Virgin Galactic’s current community of 600 Future Astronauts has always been clear that having photos and videos of their spaceflight experience to share, is of paramount importance. The output from 16 cabin cameras, plus those in the cockpit and mounted externally, will generate high definition output to provide everything from the first Instagram posts, to a beautifully edited and historically significant personal movie. for social media and dare I write, souvenirs. Seatback screens provide flight data and a communications system for the ‘astronaut passengers’ to speak with the pilots in the cockpit,” Virgin Galactic said.
Virgin Galactic is selling a 90-minute return flight to the Kármán Line, which is an attempt to divide the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, for $250,000 per seat.
Paying customers undertake a three-day training program consisting of safety instructions, getting familiar with the cabin and seats, and a dress rehearsal.
Virgin Galactic has completed two human test flights and is ready to fly its first customer, probably Sir Richard Branson, before the end of this year.
“Richard is ready to go,” Virgin’s chief astronaut trainer Beth Moses said on Tuesday.
“When we created Virgin Galactic, we started with what we believed would be an optimal customer experience and then built the spaceship around it. We will continue with that ethos as we expand our fleet, build our operations and underpin Virgin Galactic’s position as the Spaceline for Earth. This cabin has been designed specifically to allow thousands of people like you and me to achieve the dream of spaceflight safely – and that is incredibly exciting,’’ said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group.