Virgin Galactic, a British company seeking to commercialize spaceflight, revealed on Tuesday the finished cabin design for its spaceship that will eventually carry customers into space.
Virgin Galactic is one part of the Virgin Group, founded by Richard Branson, that also operates lines of commercial jet travel, hotels, gyms, and other ventures. Branson along with top directors at Galactic premiered the finished cabin design via video.
“Although the event may be virtual, its significance to starting to open space to everyone is very real,” Branson said. “It is a cabin which has been designed specifically to allow thousands of people to achieve their dreams of space flight safely and to maximize every aspect of that fabulous journey.”
The design team mapped out the cabin with meticulous planning from color-coordinating seats to customers’ spacesuits to the 17 circular windows fitted across the cabin to give customers the most open view possible from space. James Brown, Galactic’s design director, walked through the various aspects of the cabin on the video.
Regarding seats, Brown said:
We’ve used the highest grade aluminium and carbon fiber manufacturing techniques, and we’ve cantilevered the structure from the cabin sidewalls. Your seat is also dynamic and enhances comfort during each stage of your flight. When you leave your seat in space, it reclines to maximize cabin space for you to enjoy weightlessness, and it remains reclined for you during reentry so we direct and optimize g-forces without detracting from the thrill of the ride. We’ve provided each astronaut with their own personal digital display within the seat backs. The display gives us the opportunity to share live flight data with you so speed, [g-forces], the boost time that’s remaining of your flight, all helping provide more memorable touches to your experience.
On the walls of the cabin, Brown said:
The cabin is lined with an extremely lightweight and soft engineered foam with a honeycomb structure. Functionally, we were able to improve thermal and acoustic qualities of the cabin, but the lining also provides a soft touch as you explore the cabin during weightlessness. Your view is the focus of your time in zero-g and to guide you toward experiencing this incredible moment, we’ve got 17 windows, each bordered by a soft, circular halo which helps focus and frame your view. We’ve designed the halo edges to help you move around the cabin and to perfectly position yourself to view Earth below. In zero-g, the cabin effectively becomes a 360-degree climbing frame.
The cabin is also equipped with lighting, cameras, and a large circular mirror at the back of the plane. The lighting changes along with the phase of the flight and shuts off while the ship is in space so as not to pollute customers’ view of open space and the Earth. Cameras record the trip and videos are made available for each customer after the flight is over. The mirror is for customers to get the full experience of seeing themselves in zero-g in open space.
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