July 28, 2020 / 6:03 PM / 10 days ago

Virgin Galactic shows off new space plane's cabin

The interior cabin of billionaire Richard Branson's space tourism firm Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is seen in an artist's rendition released July 28, 2020. Virgin Galactic/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism firm Virgin Galactic revealed the interior of its centerpiece space plane on Tuesday, showing off a cabin with new custom seats and a “space mirror” in a virtual tour of what its passengers can expect to experience on flights to the edge of space.

For $250,000 a ticket, passengers who have signed up for the suborbital flight aboard the air-launched plane VSS Unity will strap into six tailored, teal-colored seats and can peer out of the cabin’s 12 circular windows as they ascend some 60 miles (97 km) above Earth. The plane has five other windows up front.

“We have amazing seats that will be tailored to each person, and that move during the flight to maximize people’s comfort,” Virgin Galactic Chief Space Officer George Whitesides told Reuters, adding that passengers can unbuckle themselves at peak altitude to float around the cabin in zero-gravity conditions.

The company has 600 customers signed up to fly and more than 400 more who have expressed interest, Whitesides said. The company has not set a firm date for its first commercial space flight, with its British founder Branson expected to be aboard.

The cabin, revealed in a virtual-reality headset the company provided to journalists, also features a large, circular mirror in the back “to allow our customers to see themselves in space in a way that has really never been done before,” Whitesides said.

The plane, attached to a bigger carrier plane, is intended to take off from the company’s New Mexico spaceport and detach mid-air to launch further toward the edge of space in a trip lasting 90 minutes.

Virgin Galactic went public in October after merging with Social Capital Hedosophia, the special-purpose acquisition vehicle run by early Facebook Inc executive and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.

Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Will Dunham

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