BALTIMORE (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic has kicked off its Astronaut Readiness Program – the process of preparing Future Astronaut customers for their flights to space. As the first and only private company to have put humans into space in a vehicle built for commercial service, we are now finalizing all elements of the customer experience, including the recently unveiled customer spacesuits, created in partnership with Under Armour, and the interior of our Gateway to Space headquarters at Spaceport America. The next phase in this process is to ensure that Future Astronauts are optimally prepared to fly to space.
The Astronaut Readiness Program launched this week at the Under Armour Global HQ in Baltimore where we were joined by Future Astronauts who will be among the first to fly with Virgin Galactic. Guided and instructed by some of our key team members, they carried out a number of flight preparation activities. Through completing this unique program they are helping us to tailor and perfect the program for those who follow.
Our spacewear partner, Under Armour, hosted this gathering at its extensive, high-tech campus – an ideal location for the variety of different activities.
Perhaps the most exciting exercise for many Future Astronauts was being fitted for their personal, spaceflight garments. These are tailored to each Future Astronaut and will remain theirs to keep post-flight. We are carrying out the fittings now, so that perfectly tailored training suits and spacesuits will be ready and waiting for our Future Astronauts as they arrive at Spaceport America for final flight preparation and spaceflight.
As part of the Readiness Program, in sessions led by Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses, and Chief Pilot, Dave Mackay, we shared more detailed information with Future Astronauts about what to expect from preparation time at Spaceport America and from the spaceflight itself. Both Beth and Dave flew to space in February this year, so were able to provide exciting insights based on actual experience.
Health and fitness are important components of the spaceflight and a part of our absolute commitment to safety. Virgin Galactic is proud to be opening space to more people than ever before and while our Future Astronauts will not need to meet the incredibly rigorous levels of fitness required of government space agency astronauts, our in-house Medical Team conducted specially designed Medical Consultations with each Future Astronaut as part of the week’s program.
Alongside those consultations, the Under Armour team led sessions on mobility and nutrition. Paul Winsper, Vice President of Athlete Performance at Under Armour, is ideally placed to provide this guidance as it draws on the relevant elements of training programs he provides for elite Under Armour athlete ambassadors; helping them to perform to a level which unlocks their true potential. Our Future Astronauts left the session with a tailored performance program, which along with medical consultation results, will aim to use health and fitness as a tool to optimize the spaceflight experience.
George Whitesides, CEO, Virgin Galactic, said:
‘’Introducing our Astronaut Readiness Program to our first customers marks an exciting point in our journey as we move closer to the start of commercial service. It is an important step in the process to ensure that our customers are prepared and equipped with the knowledge and training that will help ensure that they savour every second of their spaceflight which we hope will go beyond expectations. My introduction to Virgin Galactic was as a customer, so I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of involving Future Astronauts as we prepare each individual for the trip of a lifetime.’’
Virgin Galactic has more than 600 Future Astronauts from 60 countries – all signed up to fly on SpaceShipTwo. We have been a customer-focused business from the start and one of the many benefits of this early customer community has been its assistance in shaping the customer journey.
We will now be using the feedback from this week in Baltimore to build on that model. We discussed with our Future Astronauts how the training and the community can be best shaped for those waiting to fly and for those who have flown. Spaceflight has profound and transformative qualities and we want to provide a platform which will allow our Future Astronauts to share their new perspectives with the world and their local communities, thereby inspiring others.
Clare Pelly, Head of Astronaut Office, said:
‘’As we kick off the program which will prepare Future Astronauts for a transformational spaceflight experience, we once again draw on the support from our unique, pioneering community. In doing so, we can ensure that each journey with Virgin Galactic is as good and relevant as it possibly can be; not only before, but during and after the incredible, personal experience of spaceflight.”