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Sir Richard trains for Spaceflight

04.12.07

Sir Richard trains for Spaceflight

Sir Richard Branson successfully completed a space flight training course today at the NASTAR Center in Southampton, PA.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, successfully completed a space flight training course today at the NASTAR Center, in Southampton, PA, which is the National Aerospace Training and Research Center. He undertook this training in preparation for a flight aboard SpaceShipTwo, the suborbital vehicle his company Virgin Galactic is developing along with Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites.

Commenting on the NASTAR Center space flight training, Sir Richard said, “It was an amazing experience. Due to the flight simulation combined with the G forces created by the STS-400 centrifuge, I really felt like I was launching into space. I am glad many of the Founder astronauts got to do this, because it really does get us all prepared and excited about the real thing, and alleviates a lot of the apprehension people naturally have about whether they can handle a space launch or not. Now I know that I and the Founders can concentrate on the primary features of a Virgin Galactic space flight, which are the magnificent view of Earth and the weightless experience.”

Several other participants from Virgin Galactic trained along with Branson, including his son Sam; Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic President; Alan Watts, who earned a flight aboard SpaceShipTwo through cashing in his Virgin Atlantic frequent flyer “Flying Club” miles; and Professor James Lovelock, the scientist who created the concept of Gaia Theory, that the biosphere of Planet Earth constitutes one great living entity. His ground-breaking work has laid the foundations of much modern climate change theory. All of them successfully completed the training.

About 60 of the first 100 Virgin Galactic spaceflight customers, known as Founders, have gone through the 2-day NASTAR Center space flight training course. All of them found the experience worthwhile, and several laughed or whooped during their space launch simulation. The founders expressed many enthusiastic comments about their training: “Absolutely fantastic.” “Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.” “Wow! I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world! Very Cool.”, “A wickedly realistic experience”, and “NASTAR Center is the Best.”

“We are proud to have the opportunity to train Sir Richard and the other Galactic personnel and customers for their space flights,” said William Mitchell, CEO of Environmental Tectonics Corporation (ETC), the parent company of the NASTAR Center. “This is the beginning of a new era in space activities. The NASTAR Center intends to be an important part of creating the private space industry in the coming years, a time in which personal spaceflight will play an increasing role and manned flight will continue to evolve.”

Photo by Mark Greenberg

For further information and images, please click here to visit the NASTAR Centre website.

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