A first look inside the rocket plane that will fly you to the edge of space.
Virgin Galactic live-streamed the first look at SpaceShipTwo’s cabin today as part of its 16-year quest to fly travelers into suborbital space (the reveal starts at the video’s ten-minute mark). What should the 600-plus future astronauts with reserved tickets expect? Mood lighting that adjusts to various stages of flight (and cuts out entirely in space to focus attention on Earth’s glow), a dozen circular windows with soft foam rings that double as handholds for moving about the cabin during weightlessness, and a large tinted mirror at the rear to allow passengers to perfect their zero-g acrobatics.
Designers streamlined the interior to maximize passenger maneuverability. Seats will be sized specifically to fit each of its six passengers and feature pilot-controlled recline settings for greater comfort when g-forces intensify during rocket boost to Mach 3.5 and on re-entry; personal seat-back screens will provide data and updates from the flight deck. A nice touch: 16 high-def cameras will record the experience, leaving passengers free to take it all in rather than fumble with settings.
Passenger seats provide a snug, comfortable fit with a five-point harness designed for ease of use in zero-g.
Current flight plans call for a roughly 90-minute journey from the time mother ship WhiteKnightTwo lifts off from Truth and Consequences, New Mexico’s spaceport until touchdown. At roughly 50,000 feet, SpaceShipTwo will detach from the mother ship’s belly, fire its rocket motor, and blast into suborbital space. Passengers will experience several minutes of weightlessness before the spacecraft re-enters Earth’s atmosphere and glides back to the runway.
Virgin Galactic has conducted two test flights to space and is currently wrapping up its testing program from Spaceport America. The company plans to start flying its first paying passengers (many of whom booked through their Virtuoso advisor) in the coming months.