Earth’s first space tourists won’t be lacking for comfort or killer views when Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity finally takes its initial commercial flight. Sir Richard Branson and friends let the world inside for a first look at the spaceplane’s bespoke interior today, and it’s a posh setup with a window on the inky-black heavens.
Originally intended as an in-person event before the coronavirus pandemic took things online, Virgin Galactic walked the internet through the subdued, teal-and-white cabin of its leisure-focused spacecraft, which features custom-fitted reclining seats, each with its own up-close porthole so aspiring astronauts (i.e., deep-pocketed space tourists) catch every second of the experience.
“The cabin is special because, while it’s been created to integrate seamlessly with every other aspect of our astronaut journey, it is also the design centerpiece,” said Branson before welcoming everyone aboard.
Virgin’s entire video showcase begins at the 10-minute mark in the clip below, and features some truly astounding space views. But the tour of the cabin itself begins around the 22:40 timestamp:
“It was already freakin’ remarkable,” said Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic, “and now it’s even more so, for all of our future customers.” They’ll definitely be getting their money’s worth, with a total of 17 soft-padded circular windows that let passengers take their pick of vantage points, once the seat belts come unbuckled.
The cabin also features 16 onboard cameras, all the better to allow Virgin to document your journey — so you can keep the focus on the view outside, instead of on your left-behind smart phone. There’s even a giant circular mirror at the back of the cabin, all the better to catch yourself gawking at your own weightlessness as you float to and fro between all those padded windows. Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said the cabin is “the design centerpiece” of the Unity, tailored to “enable hundreds, and then thousands of people to embark on one of the most unforgettable journeys of their lives — that of space flight.”
With two crewed test flights under its belt and many more to come as the test craft begins to more closely resemble the final version that’ll carry passengers, there’s not a firm timeline for when VSS Unity will launch its first cargo of paying spacefarers to the skies. A launch that aimed to take Branson himself into suborbital flight has already been postponed once, but the Virgin founder is still expected to make the trip at some point — timed, in all likelihood, as a signal that the company is nearing the finish line.