Virgin Galactic reached another milestone Tuesday after unveiling the design of the cabin interior for SpaceShipTwo, the spacecraft the company intends to use for commercial rides to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere.
In a video broadcast, the company revealed a crew cabin that holds six passengers and two pilots in custom seats. The cabin has numerous port windows so spaceflight passengers can view the awe of Earth while experiencing the “freedom of weightlessness” for about $250,000 a ticket.
“It’s a big moment because although the event may be virtual, its significance in starting to open space to everyone is very real,” said Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic.
“It is a cabin which has been designed specifically to allow thousands of people to achieve their dreams of spaceflight safely, and to maximize every aspect of that fabulous journey,” Branson said.
Branson called the cabin interior the “centerpiece” of SpaceShipTwo.
New Mexico has been waiting years for Virgin Galactic to launch wealthy spacefarers after it invested some $220 million constructing Spaceport America at a remote site near Upham. Most recently, the company blew past a commitment to launch its first commercial fights this summer.
The state has worked with Virgin Galactic since 2006, under former Gov. Bill Richardson, to make New Mexico the location of the spaceport.
But the company has been beset with delays and suffered a fatal accident in 2014 in which a pilot died.
Last month, Spaceport America CEO Dan Hicks was placed on administrative leave pending a state investigation prompted by an undisclosed complaint “related to operations,” Economic Development Department Bruce Krasnow confirmed.
Also in June, Virgin Galactic announced a second successful flight in preparation for commercial launches.
The company posted a net loss of $133 million in the past two financial quarters. But roughly 600 people from 60 companies have signed up to take a tour into zero gravity. At about $250,000 per ticket, that is worth roughly $80 million in revenue to the company, the Washington Post reported.
Meanwhile, another commercial space company founded by Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin, is planning to launch well-paying customers into space.