We’d known Richard Branson and the Virgin organisation for some time when they offered us a dream project — designing the interior concept for the VSS Enterprise, one of Virgin Galactic’s first commercial suborbital spacecraft.
The pioneering consumer space venture had already attracted over 200 pre-paying passengers, including Stephen Hawking and Philippe Starck.
To keep the momentum going, they needed to show investors what a $200,000 trip to space would really feel like.
This would mean designing everything from soundproofing to safety specifications, then creating a CGI film that would demonstrate the entire experience, from take-off to landing.
Branson was set to unveil a mock-up of the VSS at New York’s WIRED NextFest the following September, which only gave us a few months to complete the work.
US laws prevent space-related intelligence leaving the country, so we had to develop our own specs from scratch, using data from Virgin’s medical experts, pilots and engineers. Unlike NASA, we also had to factor in comfort and aesthetics, with an elegant and beautiful design that would delight Virgin Galactic’s super elite clients.
Our finished design is an ultra-lightweight but incredibly strong interior, with chairs that lock into place to support the body in high G-force conditions, and fold flat at the critical zero-G moment — giving tourist-astronauts the most exhilarating experience possible.
Our design and seven-minute video formed an essential part of Virgin Galactic’s 2007 media push, attracting international attention and further investment for the company.