Virgin Galactic Unveils New Lounge, Mission Control for Space Flights

Aug 17, 2019

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Virgin Galactic is one step closer to offering commercial space flights to its customers. On Thursday, the British spaceflight company unveiled the interior of two of three levels at its Gateway to Space building at its spaceport in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Gateway to Space building will consist of a pre-departure lounge, mission control and pre-flight lounge exclusively for astronauts.

Virgin Galactic's Spaceflight System prepares for Flight at Spaceport America (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)
Virgin Galactic’s Spaceflight System prepares for Flight at Spaceport America (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)

Level One: Gaia

The first level is home to a pre-departure lounge named Gaia and will host the astronauts, their family and friends, and members of the Virgin Galactic team. According to Virgin, Gaia serves as the point of departure and arrival. The design of the space is meant to “promote social interaction and human discourse — a sense of togetherness and unity.”

Gaia lounge at Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)
Gaia lounge at Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)

Gaia features natural materials and color palettes meant to bring the landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert inside the Gateway to Space building.

The Gaia Lounge features a color scheme and natural elements designed to bring the Chiuhuahan Desert into the building. (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)
The Gaia Lounge features a color scheme and natural elements designed to bring the Chihuahuan Desert into the building. (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)

The departure lounge will eventually feature amenities for future astronauts. When space flights commence, astronauts and crew members will be able to share breakfast and a cup of coffee in the lounge. Gaia will also serve as a place for pilots, engineers, and future astronauts to converse throughout the day.

Gaia Lounge Dinning Area From Above (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)
Gaia Lounge Dining Area (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)

Level Two: Cirrus

The second level is named Cirrus and is home to Spaceport America’s mission control. According to Virgin, Cirrus was designed to reflect “the skies beyond and providing a clean environment supporting operational focus.”

The color scheme between the first floor (Gaia) and the second floor (Cirrus) gradually graduates from earth tones to whiter and gray colors.

Cirrus, home to mission control at The Gateway to Space building. (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic via YouTube)
Cirrus, home to mission control at The Gateway to Space building. (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic via YouTube)

Cirrus will host Mission Control’s Mission Briefing Room, the Pilot Corps and the rest of the Flight Operations team. According to Virgin Galactic, Cirrus provides “an unrestricted view of ground operation areas including the apron and runway.”

Cirrus Level of Gateway to Space, flight operations working area. (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)
Cirrus Level of Gateway to Space, flight operations working area. (Image courtesy of Virgin Galactic)

In a press release, Virgin Galactic said the following of its recently unveiled Gateway to Space building:

The unveiling of Gaia and Cirrus brings to life a beautiful, world-first and world-class facility and means that Spaceport America’s Gateway to Space is now functionally operational — ready to host the remaining portion of Virgin Galactic’s test flight program before welcoming its very first Future Astronauts.”

Virgin Galactic is the suborbital spaceflight wing of the Virgin Group. Virgin Galactic also noted in the press release that the company is “in the final stages of development, having already completed two crewed flights” with plans to commence commercial space flights in 2020. The 90-minute space flights reportedly cost around $250,000 and offer views of the Earth from space as well as moments of zero-gravity.

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Featured image courtesy of Virgin Galactic

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