As part of it Virgin Galactic announced the final interior design of its VSS Unity spacecraft. The company presented the interiors today during a virtual event and offered press representatives (including myself) a special tour of the interiors in VR. The cabin is designed to focus on the customer experience, as you can expect from a trip that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity offers up to six passengers an unprecedented journey into suborbital space, where they experience weightlessness in weightlessness and have the opportunity to observe the curvature of the earth and the darkness of the cosmos beyond the atmosphere. The cabin is designed to optimize the safety, comfort and freedom of paying private astronauts throughout the journey ̵
To achieve this, Virgin Galactic has developed carbon fiber and aluminum seats that combine 3D soft material with soft, gold-gold accents and fabrics that were created in collaboration with Under Armor (who also developed the custom spacesuits for passengers) to ensure that all private astronauts Flying on the unit is as protected and comfortable as possible during the parts of the flight in which they experience triple the normal gravity of the earth. These bespoke seats are tailored to each passenger in terms of size and have thoughtful details such as a channel in the center of the headrest that can accommodate ponytails, for example.
The five-point belt built into the seats can be released with a single lock. The straps with the fasteners are then automatically retracted into the seat to ensure that they are safely out of the way during the gravity zero gravity section, but easy to find when they have to buckle up for the return trip.
All seats are also designed in such a way that they serve as handholds during the free float – like almost everything else in the passenger cabin. This is also the reason why the seats have a cantilevered mounting post that offers space under each free space, that offers more space for exploration as soon as the unit leaves the earth’s atmosphere and concepts such as up and down become less important.
Virgin used soft materials throughout the cabin for the same reason. There are a total of 17 windows in the entire interior (three of which are for the two-person crew), with each of the windows accessible to passengers being rounded off with a halo made of soft material ‘complete with handle and integrated camera. Virgin has indeed installed cameras throughout the cabin, each offering high quality photographs that have been matched by image experts to the specific lighting conditions of the trip. The idea here is that all private astronauts should be guaranteed great documentation of their experience without having to worry about capturing any of it themselves. Virgin says some of these images will be posted pretty soon after landing so that space travelers can instantly access their social accounts.
Each seat is a window seat, one to the side and one above to enjoy the breathtaking view. There is also a large mirror that covers the entire rear bulkhead and separates the cabin from the rocket engine. This allows the astronauts to check their zero-G antics.
The seats also change orientation and inclination, depending on which part of the journey takes place, from upright for the 3.5G on the rocket ride straight up to a reclined position for the atmospheric 3G slowdown reentry. Each seat also has an information display that provides information about what happens during the flight. Although the pilot and copilot are not completely separated from the main cabin, you can theoretically ask them questions about the trip live.
Virgin Galactic also used the atmospheric in-flight lighting developed by its counterpart to the commercial aircraft and translated it for space. The dynamic lighting responded to every stage of the journey and was based on various strategically placed and not obvious cabin lights. Check out more detailed photos of the cabin interior below, including a configuration that allows three passengers but saves space for experimentation on the other side of the cabin. In another way, Virgin Galactic plans to monetize its service.
The company still needs to make some final preparations before it can fly its paying customers, but with the full interior of VSS Unity, it’s closer to its goal than ever. This is definitely a unique offer, so it is difficult to judge the product without the reviewers available, but it is clear that Virgin Galactic has put a lot of thought, consideration and expertise into developing a spacecraft interior that is suitable for everyone, who can afford the trip.