On February 22, the passenger spacecraft VSS Unity by Virgin Galactic climbed into the sky over the Mojave Desert in California during a test flight, carrying a kind of driver that has never been seen before. On board the vehicle was Beth Moses, the first passenger the Unity had flown. Together with the two pilots of the aircraft, the trio climbed to a height of 89.8 kilometers – which many consider the beginning of space.
The short flight qualifies Moses for commercial astronaut wings of the Federal Aviation Administration. And now she is the first woman to fly into space with a commercial vehicle.
After the groundbreaking test flight, we met with Moses to learn something about seeing the curvature of the Earth and in the real world Space to experience weightlessness. We also wanted to know how she would use this flight to enhance the future customer experience of Virgin Galactic. The company, which promises fast flights to the edge of space, has sold hundreds of tickets to paying customers on VSS Unity. And as the chief astronaut trainer at Virgin Galactic, Moses will be responsible for coaching hopeful passengers for the flight she has just experienced.
This interview has been easily edited for the sake of clarity.
I understand that you already have a lot of experience with Zero G flight. How was your training until the last flight?
Before I was sent on this flight, I spent many years with NASA and five years with Virgin Galactic. Through these two roles, I have researched weightlessly in parabolic aircraft and made experiences with high G-values both in aerobatic aircraft and in centrifuges. I also did a lot of extreme environmental testing when checking the International Space Station hardware. Things like human thermal vacuum vacuum testing, pressure line testing, neutral buoyancy testing, the nature of the entire industrial environment of test environments. So that was the background that allowed me to quickly train for this particular location. When I went to this special flight, I brought with me some of this experience.
What did it feel like when you found out that you would be on the flight?
I was very happy. [Laughs]
What has brought your training to prepare for this mission?
I am the astronaut trainer at Virgin Galactic. Therefore, the part of the flight was to test the training program that will please our customers. And it was really fun! In my opinion, it was in some ways the best of both worlds, because I was able to construct a good test of what I had done in my career before and train myself with some of the experts here at Galactic, like our pilots and our medical staff.
Of course, our customers are not trained to do any specific test or task; You can just have fun. But it was a great mix of using my past, doing a good test, and then looking ahead to what it would be like to train our clients.
Can you comment on the specifics of the test that resulted in the test?
I looked at the store's cabin inventory, and our pilots had flown so well that I was able to clear the field when I reached space and left my seat. Part of what I looked at was how to get up from your seat and sit back in your seat. So I left my seat, not just once, but twice to test it out.
And then I too At certain times in the flight profile, it was about different areas of the cabin to find out where to look best in the cabin, what the views look like and how the cabin has moved around you. Because when you are no longer in your place, the vehicle is still moving. I've looked at things like our colors and our surfaces, and how does it all work to deliver a truly seamless spatial experience. I had a strict timeline of where I should be and what I should evaluate and how I should do it.
What went through your head before you came to weightlessness, during the descent and then the ascent into space?
I Remember exactly as we ascend into space, just remembering that we would climb so pure. In fact, I said that. Most of my assessments were about the camera, and I kept saying, "Up! We still go up We still go up! "And I was very excited. It was just amazing.