Forget science fiction—space tourism is on the cusp of becoming a reality. In a virtual event held yesterday, Sir Richard Branson's space travel company Virgin Galactic debuted the cabin design for its spacecraft SpaceShipTwo, a rocket-powered, airplane-like vehicle that'll soon bring passengers to the stars.
The entire family of Virgin Group brands, from airline Virgin Atlantic to cruise line Virgin Voyages, is known for its bold design choices, and Virgin Galactic fits in with its brethren quite well. Designed by the brand's in-house team, in conjunction with London-based firm Seymourpowell, the interior of SpaceShipTwo is futuristic and sleek, naturally illuminated with LED mood lighting.
The six blue-hued passenger seats crafted from carbon-fiber-and-aluminum are the standout technical feature of the cabin. Throughout the flight, the pilots will be able to adjust the seats' positions to maximize passengers' comfort. During the launch, the seating configuration will be optimized for handling the intense g-forces felt by the space plane's occupants, then while at "cruising altitude," roughly 50 miles above the surface of the Earth, they'll be positioned to maximize the space in the cabin for guests to float about in weightlessness. They will also have seatback screens to display flight information for passengers.
While in space, passengers are encouraged to explore any of the 17 windows spread throughout the cabin, the largest of which are ringed with soft foam handholds (rookie astronauts are always a little clumsy the first time they experience zero-g!). The cabin is also lined with 16 cameras to capture the entire experience so that passengers need not waste time taking selfies—instead, they can simply soak in the rarely seen views of Earth.
"When we created Virgin Galactic, we started with what we believed would be an optimal customer experience and then built the spaceship around it," Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said in a statement. "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."
Virgin Galactic is currently selling tickets for flights aboard SpaceShipTwo for $250,000 a seat, with a current passenger list roughly 600 people long. Though the spacecraft is still in its testing phase, the company hopes to send its customers into space as soon as the end of this year. And for those of us who aren't quite able to afford a ticket yet, you can get a taste of the experience and explore the SpaceShipTwo cabin through a new augmented-reality app available in the App Store and Google Play.