With the launch of the world’s first commercial spaceport, by Virgin Galactic, the age of leisure space travel is finally here!
Since the first vessel took to space, the entire world became obsessed with space travel and what it could offer. For decades, virtually every young boy, and despite the era’s prevalent gender-roles, many girls dreamt of putting on a space helmet and becoming an astronaut. But, the realities meant that most would never see this dream realised.
The idea of commercial space travel is certainly nothing new, with many visionaries having dreamt up concepts and ideas over the decades of its possibilities and what it would look like. But one of thises visionary has finally turned this seemingly impossible dream into reality.
When Sir Richard Branson‘s vision Virgin Galactic was launched, most of us, met the news with serious scepticism. Or, we thought that by the time it will actually be a viable opportunity, most of us will no longer be alive to see it. That being said, I am very pleased to admit that even I was wrong.
On 13 December 2018 that VSS Unity achieved the project’s first suborbital space flight and officially entered space as they achieved an altitude of 82.7 kilometres.
The reality of just how close leisure space travel is was cemented with the launch of the Gateway to Space, the world’s first commercial spaceport. Basically, it is a space-travel airport, if an airport consisted only of a first-class lounge and technical operations. Not that we would expect coach just yet.
The interior fit-out of the Gateway to Space building at Spaceport America in New Mexico is an intricate blend of natural materials and futuristic design elements.
The first floor of the building is called Gaia. This space acts as a departure and returns lounge for both passengers as well as the technical team. The design and finishes celebrate the earth and its natural elements.
Designed through a collaboration by Virgin Galactic and Viewport Studio, the space offers a symbolic portal of leaving the one world for another. “The floor design, furniture and fittings promote social interaction and human discourse – a sense of togetherness and unity. An elevated, interactive digital walkway will heighten the departure experience for the Future Astronauts and their friends and family as they set out from Spaceport to VSS Unity on the day of the flight. The Earthfocused design will provide a fitting welcome to those newly-graduated astronauts returning from space with a new appreciation and understanding of our home planet.”
The second floor of the Commercial Spaceport is home to Mission Control, the Mission Briefing Room, the Pilot Corps and the rest of the Flight Operations team and is called Cirrus.
The design team commented that “Cirrus, represents light, air and flight. It is the beating heart of spaceflight operations and is connected to the community hub of Gaia below through a double-height atrium. The colour palette graduates from the earthy tones below in Gaia to lighter white and grey shades, reflecting the skies beyond and providing a clean environment supporting operational focus.”
Completion of this interior work means the spaceport facility is now operationally functional and able to support Virgin Galactic’s flight requirements.
Although the exact price has not been set as yet, it is expected that a ticket on the Virgin Galactic space flight would cost around US$250 000. In an official statement, Sir Richard Branson commented that he would like to see the prices fall to around US$50 000 within the next decade. But, that no commitments can be made yet.