Virgin Galactic revealed the interior of its Spaceship Two vehicle, VSS Unity, last week in a YouTube video. Unity’s interior, roughly the size of a midsize business jet, incorporated a minimalist design, with six high-tech seats for the “astronauts”—or space tourists paying for the experience—and 12 domed windows that allow simultaneous views of space and planet Earth, either from their seats or while floating around in a weightless state.
The company today also released a free app on the Apple Store.
“We built this spaceship from the inside out,” Sir Richard Branson said during a smaller, follow-up press conference hosted on Zoom. “We started with what we believed would be an optimal customer experience and then built the spaceship around it. This cabin will allow thousands of people to realise their dreams of traveling in space.”
The interior reveals a blend of high-tech, ergonomics and contemporary interior design. The seats, for instance, will be customised for each astronaut, and drop into reclining mode when Unity hits space, at which point participants are free to float around the cabin.
“They’re unlike any seats that have ever been designed before,” said Jeremy Brown, Virgin Galactic’s chief designer. “They are designed so that the astronauts will be comfortable in both zero gravity and in 1G on the ground. The body will be subject to much higher G forces as Unity travels into space, so the seats are designed to hug in all the right places for a snug fit.”
The interior, designed by Virgin Galactic with Seymourpowell, London, also has special colours for the seating and walls. “Golden metallics resemble luminous desert sands, blues conjure celestial spaces and teals inspired by the ocean ground travelers back to Earth,” said a statement. Brown said the one-piece spacesuits by Under Armour have also colour-coordinated with the interior. Under Armour also designed the high-tech material on the sea tops.
Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Astronaut Instructor, did a trip into space aboard Unity in February 2019. She will be training astronauts for three days before the actual flights take place. The video shows her clearly thrilled with the weightless experience and being able to look back at our bright blue planet. She was also wired up so that scientists could measure her body signals on earth. Virgin Galactic has built a special training centre on the third floor of its Space Center in New Mexico.
Virgin Galactic won’t reveal the price for this out-of-world experience, but the Virgin Galactic website says it will be more than around £193,000. Six hundred people have paid around £770 refundable deposits to be included on the astronaut list, but only a few will most likely be able to afford the ticket.
Chief space officer George Whitesides said that one, and possibly two, more flights will be necessary before they open the space experience to paying customers. He did not give a time frame. Whitesides also said the spaceship would be used to host scientists working on space-related experiments.
During the press conference, the Virgin Galactic team was clearly pleased with the high-tech but stylish interior, which has special LED lighting that changes colors depending on the stage of flight (colours go off when it reaches the apogee—the farthest point from the Earth).
The windows also have LED colors around the soft rims, where floating astronauts can hold on, watch colors change, and enjoy the view.
An “analog” mirror in back of the spacecraft lets participants watch themselves floating in space.
“The spaceship cabin interior is in many ways the design centerpiece of the astronaut journey,” said Virgin Galactic’s new CEO Michael Colglazier. “What has been created will both facilitate and elevate a uniquely profound and transformational journey for the thousands who will fly.”