Friday saw Virgin Galatic announce that it had attained FAA approval to take passengers into space. With the world set to experience commercially available space tourism for the first time ever, what can passengers expect when climbing aboard a Virgin Spaceship? Let’s take a look.
The cabin of a private jet
Virgin Galactic does not publish the specifications and dimensions of its spacecraft on its website. Interestingly, the firm did have these details online once upon a time. Thanks to internet archives, we can get an idea of the size of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.
SpaceShipTwo has a total length of 60 feet or 18.3 meters. Of course, this figure isn’t truly reflective of the cabin space as it includes the cockpit and propulsion system at the rear of the ship. However, we do know that the ship carries six passengers and two pilots and has a cabin diameter of seven and a half feet – or 2.29 meters.
Virgin Galactic’s old site said that the cabin space was “similar in size to a Falcon 900 executive jet.” However, it notes that the ship lacks a floor dissecting the cabin. This allows for “maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.”
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Every seat is a window seat
Virgin Galactic notes that “each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows.” Looking at the company’s computer renderings, as well as images of the spacecraft’s exterior, we can see that this means a ‘side’ and ‘top’ window for each passenger. Of course, it should be noted that ‘side’ and ‘top’ are good words to use in relation to the passenger’s fixed seat. However, when floating freely in zero gravity, that top window might just become a ‘bottom’ window!
“[Each passenger has] one side window and one overhead, so that, if you don’t want to float free in space, and you’d rather just remain in your seat, you still get a great chance to see the view. No more squabbling over who has the best seat!” -Virgin Galactic
The bottom line
At the end of the day, it looks like Virgin Galactic’s spaceships will be void of the comforts and luxury furnishings of a private aircraft you’d typically spend a quarter-million dollars to fly a few hours on. Of course, this is no surprise. The hefty price tag for a ticket isn’t going towards passenger comfort.
Given the tremendous amount of energy required to break free of Earth’s gravity, every little bit of weight counts. Thus, spacecraft such as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and upcoming SpaceShipThree take efficiency to the extreme, using strong yet lightweight seating, and stripping the cabin of pretty much everything else (except for safety harnesses). Don’t expect seatback entertainment, an enclosed suite, and a spacious lavatory anytime soon. At least the seats look to be ‘almost‘ lie-flat!
What do you think of Virgin Galactic’s spaceship cabin? Let us know in the comments.