Virgin Galactic is leaning all the way in on plans to build out future spaceflight and advanced flight services as a business. The company tapped a Disney executive as CEO and unveiled its spacecraft interior design in July. Now Virgin Galactic is teasing a future high-speed aircraft design in partnership with Rolls-Royce.
Disney exec to CEO, CEO to chief space officer
Michael Colglazier jumped from Disney to Virgin Galactic in July to become the company’s next CEO with a focus on preparing for commercial services. Colglazier spent three decades at the Walt Disney Company with the most recent title of president and managing director, Disney Parks International. Existing CEO George Whitesides shifted his role to chief space officer with an assignment of “developing the company’s future business opportunities, including point-to-point hypersonic travel and orbital space travel.”
Spaceship cabin design reveal
Later in July, Virgin Galactic held a virtual event to unveil its SpaceshipTwo cabin interior design for future customers flying on short journeys to experience spaceflight. The interior of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity vehicle is surrounded by windows with over a dozen cameras to capture the experience. The interior also accommodates experiencing weightlessness in space during flight.
Virgin Galactic is currently seeking $1,000 refundable deposits for future customers interested in flying on SpaceshipTwo. Virgin Galactic also released a mobile augmented reality app for iPhone and Android to promote the spaceship cabin design and upcoming spaceflight service.
Mach 3 aircraft design
Most recently, Virgin Galactic released design concepts for a new high-speed aircraft that will be capable of traveling at Mach 3 speed (over 2,300 mph). Rolls-Royce is working with Virgin Galactic to develop the necessary propulsion technology to power the high-speed aircraft.
The Mission Concept Review, which included representatives from NASA, is an important program milestone at which the Virgin Galactic high-speed team confirmed that, based on the research and analysis work completed, its design concept can meet the high-level requirements and objectives of the mission. Previously, NASA signed a Space Act Agreement with Virgin Galactic to collaborate on high-speed technologies.
Virgin Galactic says the concept high-speed aircraft is being designed to accommodate between nine and 19 passengers to start. The company expects the high-speed aircraft to takeoff and land at existing airports like traditional passenger planes.
Virgin Galactic’s CEO shift, cabin reveal, and high-speed aircraft concept announcements all come before the company’s second quarter 2020 financial results and conference call with investors. Virgin Galactic will release Q2 earnings results on Monday, August 3. The financial disclosure comes hours after revealing the high-speed aircraft design and Rolls-Royce propulsion agreement.
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