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Fifth Virgin Galactic Newsletter

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:23 pm
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To strengthen its safety & medical team, Virgin Galactic recently appointed a Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jim Vanderploeg (Wyle Laboratories – NASA life sciences contractor) to oversee the development of a comprehensive sub-orbital medical program. Jim brings a wealth of relevant expertise to Virgin Galactic, with over 25 years experience in aerospace medicine.


More than 60,000 people have now registered an interest in becoming Virgin Galactic Astronauts (30% US, 15% UK, 10% Australia) and the number of people who have paid a deposit continues to rise. VG Founder Astronauts come from a range of 13 countries, with around 55% from the US with an approximately 80/20 split male/female.


Public enthusiasm has been overwhelming for this high profile project and Virgin Galactic have been selling seats since 2005. We are now ready to appoint space travel agents around the globe to maximise the potential of this incredible new market. We believe that the travel industry stands to benefit greatly through its involvement with the most exciting development since the dawn of commercial aviation.


Australians love adventure and judging by the number who have signed up on our website they are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to become private space pioneers.

Two members of the London Galactic team decided to board a Virgin Atlantic flight to Sydney via Hong Kong to find out more. In particular, they wanted to appoint the world’s first Virgin Galactic Accredited Space Agents, to make it easier for budding Australian astronauts to make a reservation.

Australia’s Travel Weekly had announced our intentions a few weeks earlier and invited registered travel agents, made of the right stuff, to apply. Over 50 proposals were received, from national and international networks through to single office family businesses. After some screening and phone calls a short list of 21companies became the focus of attention for the Australian visit. The team hopped between the major cities (courtesy of Virgin Blue!) conducting face to face interviews and after much soul searching and heated debate fixed on a final list of 9 companies that can now display the Accredited Space Agent Logo and represent Virgin Galactic in Australia.

Head of Astronaut sales Carolyn Wincer explained: “This has been a fantastic process that we’ll now look to repeat in other parts of the world. The enthusiasm and commitment on the part of the travel agents involved was extraordinary and we are really looking forward to working with those finally selected.” Full contact details of our first Accredited Space Agents will be appearing shortly on the website.


The National Space Society and the Planetary Society invited Virgin Galactic to Los Angeles in May 2006 to participate in the 25th International Space Development Conference. One of the highlights of the event was the Space Venturing Forum and Virgin Galactic was thrilled to participate during this forum. In the evening the team hosted Founder tables at the Space Tourism Pioneer Orbit Awards Dinner which was attended by Burt Rutan, Dennis Tito and other well known space luminaries. Forty of our Founder Astronauts flew in from around the world and were invited as special guests at Scaled Composites the following day.


Virgin Galactic supported New Mexico and exhibited at the Farnborough International Air Show during one of the hottest weeks in the year.

Virgin Galactic supported New Mexico and exhibited at the Farnborough International Air Show during one of the hottest weeks in the year. New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans unveiled ‘Spaceport America’ to the worlds press. In 2006, the New Mexico State Legislature approved over $100 million in funds to design and construct a commercial spaceport in southern New Mexico. Secretary Homans also announced that DMJM/AECOM had been selected to provide professional services for the architectural and engineering programming stage of the Southwest Regional Spaceport project.

Richard Branson sent a special video link teleconference message during the Press Conference giving a big ‘thumbs up’ to Spaceport America.


Between July 24 – 30, 2006, Will Whitehorn (VG President) and Alex Tai (VP Operations) arrived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to take part in EAA AirVenture 2006

Over 750,000 people from 70 nations participated in this event which brought together everything from the fundamentals of do-it-yourself aircraft construction and grass-strip takeoffs to the sophistication of the latest technology for the sky and beyond.

Will Whitehorn and Alex Tai led an extremely successful panel discussion with Burt Rutan at Theatre in the Woods and participated in a variety of forums.

Scaled Composites Undercover

Although we can’t tell you much… what we can tell you we will tell you here first! So keep watching this space!

SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo are taking shape… Burt and his team are doing a fantastic job. The spaceship is bigger, faster, and pretty gorgeous looking. She has many more new and improved features (which we are dieing to tell you about but can’t…yet!) including a new, bigger, rocket engine. SS2 will carry 6 passengers and two pilots. First flights are expected to be out of Mojave before the move to the new spaceport America in New Mexico.


The Wired Nextfest exhibition will be running from 28 September to 1 October 2006, in Manhattan. There will be individual pavilions presenting unique inventions, prototypes, designs and interactive experiences from 100 exhibitors.

London based SeymourPowell has now finished designing the conceptual interior of SpaceShipTwo and on the morning of Thursday 28th September Virgin Galactic’s unveiling of the SS2 mock-up conceptual interior will be the main attraction alongside a scale size replica of SS1.

During the event, VG will also be hosting an exclusive viewing of the exhibition for press & VG customers followed by a drinks reception. Our customers have also being offered a private view of the Star Trek auction items at Christies, Rockefeller Centre the following day.

Will Whitehorn, Stephen Attenborough and AlexTai and will be taking part in a special VG panel between on Friday 29th September (midday) which will be truly out of this world! Will is also going to participate in a Space Tourism panel on the morning of Saturday 30th September with Peter Diamandis, Dana Shale (NASA), Eric Anderson (CEO Space Adventures), Granger Whitelaw (CEO, Rocket Racing League). For more information, please check out the website.


The Virgin Galactic merchandise line in finally available! The new website will go live in about a month and it will have a merchandise area so that you can pick up the newest arrivals! All our merchandise will feature our beautiful iris logo and the DNA of Flight inspired by Philippe Starck.

Richard Branson celebrates Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight to Jamaica, proudly sporting a Virgin Galactic “History of Flight” Tattoo. Just part of the range of merchandise soon to be available via the Virgin Galactic website!

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