The journey starts from the moment you pay your deposit; future astronauts are kept informed and engaged in the project and its progression, experiencing everything from Astronaut Forums with Sir Richard Branson on his Caribbean island home or his South African game reserve, with opportunities to tour scaled composites to see the new vehicles under development, to marking major milestones with VIP invitations to media events.
Your Virgin Galactic space flight experience begins at the world’s first purpose built commercial spaceport and Virgin Galactic’s headquarters, Spaceport America, situated in New Mexico. Here you will meet your five fellow passengers, and during the course of the next few days meet your pilots and make your pre-flight preparations; these will mentally and physically prepare you to savour every second of your spaceflight:
- taking part in G force and flight training
- launch simulation
- zero gravity
- ‘personal communications console’ training
- how to make the most of your time in microgravity
- how to be the most comfortable in macro gravity
- basic emergency response training
- activities to familiarise you with the spaceflight environment
Everything about your pre-flight and flight experience will be recorded and presented to you so that you can relive the experience and share it with your family and friends.
LAUNCH DAY AND YOUR SPACE FLIGHT
Following a special breakfast, you and your fellow astronauts will board SpaceShipTwo (SS2), already fuelled and secured to WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) the mother ship, affectionately known as Eve, (named after Richard Branson’s mother) and prepare for take-off. From powering up to departing the runway, WhiteKnightTwo will take approximately forty-five minutes to climb to 50,000 feet.
During the countdown to release from the mother ship, you will experience a brief moment of quiet, before a wave of unimaginable, but controlled power surges through the craft, pinning you back into your seat as you listen to the howl of the rocket motor and endure the eye- watering acceleration which, according to the read-out, is propelling you into space at almost 2500mph, over three times the speed of sound. As you hurtle through the edges of the atmosphere, the large windows will perfectly reveal the cobalt blue sky as it turns from mauve to indigo and finally to black.
At this point you should be coping well even starting to relax, that is until the world contained in the spaceship is completely transformed putting all your senses back on full alert. The rocket motor has been switched off and all has become eerily quiet; the deep silence of space as awe inspiring as the noise of the rocket just moments earlier.
More significantly, gravity, which has dominated your every movement since the day you were born, is no longer there. There is no up and no down allowing you to experience a freedom that even the most realistic of your pre-flight dreams will have underestimated. Take a mid-space summersault over to the large window to see an image you’ve seen countless times before, but which now will undoubtedly provoke some strong emotions. The blue map, curving into the black distance is familiar but with none of the usual marked boundaries. The incredibly narrow ribbon of atmosphere looks worryingly fragile. It is the final reward for all your training and efforts; it is Earth and it is home.
Returning to your reclined seat, you will feel gravity starting to return. The deceleration produces strong G forces, but the fact that you’re lying down, eases the intensity. The feathered wings of the spacecraft produce a powerful drag as the thickness of the atmosphere increases, although out of the windows it still looks like space. The G forces quickly ease off and the pilot announces the start of the glide home.
Later that evening, having received your astronaut wings, take a moment to catch your breath; from this point onwards, life will never quite be the same again.
Each member of our space team is available to arrange all the elements of your booking, and talk you through the whole process. Feel free to call them on 0800 269 000 or email them at email@example.com for more details.
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