Even though the first space tourists to board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will not board the maiden commercial flight into space for a couple of years their preparation has already begun. The company given the responsibility to prepare the first Virgin Galactic space tourists and all subsequent passengers is the Wyle Life Sciences Group.
Virgin Galactic has given Wyle a contract to provide passengers with advice, a chief medical officer, management services and analysis of medical data.
Wyle is no newcomer to the world of space travel. For forty years the company has been working with NASA by helping with analysis, medical tests, training and other support services needed to prepare astronauts for space flights.
The first space tourists are being called ‘Virgin Galactic Founders’. They will take the maiden commercial space flight on board SpaceShipTwo, a high tech spaceship that is being constructed by Scale Composites. The first flight tests of SpaceShipTwo are scheduled to take place towards the end of 2008.
The cost to be a passenger on board the first Virgin Galactic commercial space flight does not come cheap at $200,000 a ticket. This fare has already been fully paid by the ‘Virgin Galactic Founders’, who are the first 100 passengers that will board SpaceShipTwo. Virgin Galactic hopes that the first commercial space flight will take place in 2009.
The position of chief medical officer falls to Wyle’s Dr. James Vanderploeg. Dr. Vanderploeg’s responsibilities will include setting up requirements for training, medical checks and putting in place medical protocols.
When speaking about his appointment Dr. Vanderploeg said, “Supporting one of the leading proponents of private human space travel is both exciting and professionally rewarding. Wyle has the right blend of experience and knowledge to successfully support this rapidly maturing industry.”
The first spaceport will be located in the United States at the Mojave Spaceport, California. After the initial spaceport is operational Virgin Galactic will establish its headquarters in New Mexico at what will be called Spaceport America.
The chief operations officer of Virgin Galactic, Alex Tai said of Wyle’s support, “We are delighted to bring Wyle on board the Virgin Galactic team. It became obvious that they bring invaluable experience and resources into this important element of the program.”
When the spaceport is up and running passengers will not have to go through months of long training. Passengers will need to arrive at the spaceport three days prior to their flight where they will get training and the chance to meet their fellow travellers.
Of their programme Virgin Galactic say, “Our goal is to provide you with the most incredible experience of your life. The trip will be intense, approaching sensory overload and the more that can be simulated beforehand, the better the real thing will be!”
Wyle Laboratories, Inc press release