Virgin Galactic has revealed the interior of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity, as the company prepares for commercial space tourism operations, with almost 600 future astronauts committed to participate.
Virgin Galactic, in collaboration with London design agency Seymourpowell, has striven to remain faithful to that tradition by developing an elegant but progressive, experience-focused concept for the cabin of its spaceship.
While it has been created to integrate seamlessly with every other aspect of the Virgin Galactic astronaut journey, the cabin is also the design centrepiece, providing safety without distraction, quietly absorbing periods of sensory intensity and offering each astronaut a level of intimacy required for personal discovery and transformation.
The textures, colours and structures within the cabin create an elegance underlined by purpose, which will inspire a sense of confidence in astronauts from the moment they board the spaceship on the day of flight.
Individually sized seats, created using the highest-grade aluminium and carbon-fiber manufacturing techniques, reinforce this sense. The importance of astronaut comfort to optimize performance is accentuated by the use of engineered foam and technical fabrics.
Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said, “In just my second week as Virgin Galactic’s CEO, it is with great pride that I can lead our talented teams in revealing this latest milestone in our journey to space. 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.”
Virgin Galactic’s partner Under Armour developed the astronaut spacesuits and also the fabric technology featured in the cabin seats. Harnessing insights from more than two decades of maximising human performance, Under Armour created a 3D knit featuring constructions that map breathability and function into the fabric, encasing each cabin seat to provide comfort and mobility during spaceflight.
The colour palette of the cabin has been carefully curated so that it complements the architecture of the seat, the cabin itself and spacesuits. The golden metallics resemble luminous desert sands, blues conjure celestial spaces and teals inspired by the ocean ground travelers back to Earth.
“The fascination with spaceflight is universal, and Virgin Galactic is here to satisfy it. We are particularly proud to be able to share this latest milestone with millions around the world, particularly during these unusual times. We hope the new app, with cutting-edge AR technology, will help bring the dream of space one step closer for space enthusiasts everywhere,” Colglazier added.
Each seat has been engineered to match the dynamism of the flight. A pilot-controlled recline mechanism optimally positions astronauts to manage G-forces on boost and re-entry and frees up cabin space to maximise an unrestricted astronaut float zone when in zero gravity.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, added, “When we created Virgin Galactic, we started with what we believed would be an optimal customer experience and then built the spaceship around it.”
SpaceShipTwo’s cabin was deliberately sized to allow for an out-of-seat weightlessness experience for the astronauts on board. The interior design focuses on this critical part of the experience.
“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,” Mr Branson added.
Soft cabin surfaces and elements become intuitive hand and footholds, allowing astronauts to explore the cabin freely and fully. The “Halo” surrounds to 12 large windows have soft extended edges, which allow astronauts to perfectly position themselves for 360 degrees of awe-inspiring views, from the infinity of outer space to the beauty of our home planet.
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.
To further elevate the experience of floating in zero gravity, the cabin includes a first for space travel, 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.
Aspiring astronauts can bring their dream of spaceflight one step closer by joining the Virgin Galactic Spacefarer community today. For a US$1,000 refundable deposit, they will be front of line for newly released spaceflight reservations.
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