Virgin Galactic holds largest gathering of future astronauts
Virgin Galactic - the world's first commercial spaceline owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's aabar Investments PJS - brought together the largest number of future astronauts to date, with approximately 400 customers and a total of 640 individuals attending its annual customer event at Mojave Air and Space Port on 25 September.
Called 'Your Flight DNA', the occasion brought together the largest number of future astronauts to date, with approximately 400 customers and a total of 640 individuals in attendance.
“As Virgin Galactic progresses towards commercial flight, we periodically gather together with our wonderful family of Virgin Galactic future astronauts, not only to thank them for their commitment to the programme, but to also celebrate our most recent milestones and successes,” said Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson who was on hand in Mojave for the event. “With supersonic powered test flights of SpaceShipTwo well underway, a full commercial service is fast approaching. In fact, today’s event could well be the last major gathering of future astronauts before we finally start to make their dreams of space travel a reality.”
Just outside Virgin Galactic’s Final Assembly Integration and Test Hangar (FAITH) facility in Mojave, WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo (SS2) were on display for the crowd. Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot David Mackay and Pilots Frederick “C.J.” Sturckow and Michael Masucci participated in the morning’s events and conducted a 'Meet the Pilots' session in the afternoon.
During these annual customer events, future astronauts are provided updates on the progress being made for the company’s space flight program. This morning, customers heard from top Virgin Galactic executives, including Sir Richard Branson, CEO George Whitesides, commercial director Stephen Attenborough, president Steve Isakowitz and vice president of operations Mike Moses.
Future astronauts received up-to-date information on vehicle and rocket motor development, including a stunning showcase of SS2 cabin seat prototypes. They also had the chance to meet and mingle with the Virgin Galactic team.
“We want to give our customers the opportunity to meet the team behind the dream – our amazing group of engineers, rocket motor scientists, operations experts, pilots and more,” George Whitesides said. “These are the individuals who work to ensure that our customers will have the safest and most memorable flight experience possible.”
This year, Virgin Galactic focused on providing customers with a 'behind the hangar doors' experience, which included updates on the recent work and programme milestones that have taken place in Mojave, where Virgin Galactic flight tests and vehicle manufacturing takes place. Many of the day’s presentations took place inside Virgin Galactic’s FAITH facility.
Throughout the remainder of the day, future astronauts gathered for additional presentations on medical evaluations, overall operations and the progress being made at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
In the evening, customers attended a private Virgin Galactic party at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. As they celebrated in the midst of retired Space Shuttle Endeavour, future astronauts heard from additional Virgin Galactic executives and had the opportunity to spend time with other fellow future astronauts.