See the Virgin Galactic spacesuits private astronauts will wear on the ride
On Wednesday, Virgin Galactic unveiled the spacesuits private astronauts will wear on the journey. Richard Branson made quite the entrance after an impressive "sky dance" introduction at an indoor skydiving facility in Yonkers, New York.
Inside iFly it was dark, with a giant enclosed tube and a screen for the presentation.
Things kicked off with a quick video as the glass tube filled with smoke. Two dancers wearing the underlayer of the spacesuits demonstrated their flexibility.
The underlayer promotes blood flow, and addresses the inevitable perspiration of nervous astronauts.
Inside the tube a new dancer wearing the spacesuit was revealed.
The airflow gets stronger and this performer is lifted into the middle of the tube, dancing as she floats.
You'll just have to watch CNET's video for the full effect. Before long a second performer entered the tube and the two danced together.
Between the smoke and the dark and the speed of the dancing it was hard to get clear shots (no flash allowed of course). But note, the helmet is not part of the Virgin Galactic spacesuit -- it was just for the indoor skydiving performance.
Talk about wow factor.
The audience ate it up.
As the dance concluded they descended to the grate-floor of the tube through which the high velocity air was blowing.
And the grand finale was Richard Branson himself entering the tube in a full spacesuit.
After removing his helmet he gave a big thumbs-up.
At this point the presentation moves across the space to a stage for some interviews.
Branson is presented with a custom flight suit jacket. The interior has an image of his own face.
Future astronauts aboard Virgin Galactic are promised a custom jacket themselves, included in the $250,000 ticket for the flight.
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank was on hand to discuss how the suits were made with eight commercial Under Armour technologies that address the challenges presented by space flight.
Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor and interiors program manager for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo program, explained that the suits are designed for future astronauts to be able to savor the experience.
Trevor Beattie, the future astronaut in the center, showed the crowd his only surviving childhood artifact, a school project he made all about his desire to go to space. He left a spot for a future newspaper clipping about his journey.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides speaks to the crowd. The company plans to send the first customers into space by 2020.
These boots look comfortable I must say, better than the old "moon boots" of yesteryear for sure.
The suits are blue and gold and made of a tricot material with stretch through and through, so people can really enjoy floating around in the cabin.
Velcro national patches can be affixed to the arm -- and even be removed after flights if desired, as Beth Moses suggests that future astronauts may have a more global perspective.
Models show off the suits, as well as the base layer worn underneath.
Branson posed with models wearing the inner and outer layers of the suits. Some of Virgin Galactic's first customers were consulted over the course of the design process, as their hopes and dreams and preferences were to be taken into account.
Each mission patch will be unique, featuring the names and signatures of the six astronaut passengers on every flight. The image blends each individual's iris to form one design on the patch.
A zippered pocket over the heart is where we are told future commercial space flight customers will be able to bring personal mementos, such as photos of loved ones. There's also a place to write a personal mission statement about why they want to go to space.
I'm guessing these boots could fetch a pretty penny if they were released to the retail market.
Bridget Carey got to interview Beth Moses after the show.
Trevor Beattie caught up with Richard Branson, who took delight in the childhood artifact. It's clear he is excited about the notion of making people's dreams a reality.