Sir Richard Branson’s space travel company Virgin Galactic has revealed the cabin interior design for its maiden SpaceshipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity, for the first time.
In the cabin are six individually-sized carbon-fibre reclining seats and a dozen round windows (two per person) for astronauts to take in the views. Seat back screens will connect Virgin Galactic astronauts to live flight data throughout their journey and each has a direct connection for each astronaut to the two space pilots.
The minimalist cabin architecture – designed by in collaboration with Seymourpowell of London – enables astronauts to move freely within VSS Unity once in space and 16 cameras will capture the space experience from all angles. To further capture the experience of floating in zero-gravity, the cabin includes a first for space travel, a large mirror on the aft bulkhead which allows astronauts to view themselves weightless – and perfect for Insta-moments. Additional windows are also located in this space.
Multi-colour LEDs are concealed within the ‘Halo’ window surrounds and are used to subtly reflect back and therefore elevate, the human responses to each of the contrasting stages of flight.
Virgin Galactic’s partner Under Armour developed the astronaut spacesuits and also the fabric technology featured in the cabin seats.
Each seat features a pilot-controlled recline mechanism, which optimally positions astronauts to manage G- forces on boost and reentry and frees up cabin space to maximise an unrestricted astronaut float zone when in zero gravity.
SpaceshipTwo’s cabin was deliberately sized to allow for an out-of-seat weightlessness experience for the astronauts on board. Soft cabin surfaces and elements become intuitive hand and footholds, allowing astronauts to explore the cabin freely and fully.
The Halo surrounds 12 large windows with soft extended edges, which allow astronauts to position themselves for 360 degrees of awe-inspiring views.
Virgin Galactic’s newly appointed CEO Michael Colglazier said the spaceship cabin interior “is in many ways the design centrepiece of the astronaut journey and what has been created will both facilitate and elevate a uniquely profound and transformational journey for the thousands who will fly.”
“The fascination with spaceflight is universal and Virgin Galactic is here to satisfy it,” the former Disney executive said.
Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, said: ‘’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.’’
Other aspiring astronauts can currently take advantage of the Virgin Galactic US$1,000 refundable deposit, which will put them at the front of the line for newly released spaceflight reservations. That’s a fraction of the actual space flight cost of around US$250,000.
A launch date for the first commercial Virgin Galactic flight has yet to be confirmed.
All images credit: © Virgin Galactic 2020