Virgin Galactic offers first look inside 'Gateway to Space' operations building

posted on Thursday, 15th August 2019 by Steve May

interior design  Travel  Art and Technology 

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Virgin Galactic has previewed the interior fit-out of its Gateway to Space building at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Work has been completed on two floors of the building, which will be primarily focused on spaceflight operations. It incorporates communal spaces designed for use by Virgin Galactic customers, along with their friends and families.

Virgin says the completion of interior work means the spaceport facility is now ‘operationally functional’ and able to support Virgin Galactic’s flight requirements.  

The fit-out project has been led by veteran Virgin architectural and interior designer, Jeremy Brown, Virgin Galactic’s Design Director, in collaboration with London-based Viewport Studio. Brown joined from Virgin Atlantic to oversee this unique assignment.

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Viewing _area _of _runway _at _Gateway _to _Space

One of the hallmarks of the Virgin brand for over nearly half a century has been the use of bold design to transform customer experiences, from aircraft cabins to hotel bedrooms. Virgin Galactic follows the same formula, by choosing an experience-focused concept for the space launch system itself.

Similarly, the company’s choice to operate from Spaceport America in New Mexico was due in no small part to the state’s decision to commission landmark architecture for the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

The Foster + Partners Gateway to Space facility pays homage to the past in its respect for the ancient surrounding landscape while embracing the future through energy efficiency and sustainability. It was also specifically designed to enable Virgin Galactic to create an experience as its customers prepare for journeys of a lifetime, before graduating as astronauts.

Gaia _Lounge _Dinning _Area

Gaia _Lounge _Dinning _Area _at _The _Gateway _To _Space

Gaia _Lounge _Dinning _Area _From _Above

The first floor, named Gaia, reflects planet Earth  and represents the point of departure and return. The color palettes and the use of natural materials aims to bring the landscape which surrounds Spaceport inside.

Gaia is zoned into practical, formal and informal spaces which will host the space operations team, Future Astronauts and their kith and kin. It serves as the social hub of the building. Future Astronauts can share breakfast with spaceship pilots, grab coffee with rocket engineers and pass the time of day with the team from Mission Control.

“The floor design, furniture and fittings promote social interaction and human discourse,” we’re told. An elevated, interactive digital walkway will heighten the departure experience for the Future Astronauts as they set out from Spaceport to VSS Unity on the day of flight. The Earth-focused design will also provide a fitting welcome to those newly-graduated astronauts returning from space.

The focal point of Gaia is the Barista Island, a central bar made of back-lit Italian marble hovering above hand-crafted oak providing a social hub. “Spaceflight preparation will unite our teams with our Future Astronauts in the pursuit of a common purpose. The Barista Island within Gaia will help to foster that sense of camaraderie and the determination to deliver each Future Astronauts’ personal mission.”

Installations _on _Cirrus _Level _of _Gateway _to _Space ,_New _Mexico

Cirrus _Level _of _Gateway _to _Space ,_flight _operations _working _area

Close _up _of _Barista _Island _at _Gateway _to _Space ,_New _Mexico

The second floor is dubbed Cirrus, representing light, air and flight. It is the heart of spaceflight operations, and is connected to the community hub of Gaia below through a double height atrium. The color palette graduates from the earthy tones below to lighter white and grey shades, reflecting the skies beyond and providing a clean environment supporting operational focus.

This area is home to Mission Control, the Mission Briefing Room, the Pilot Corps and the rest of the Flight Operations team.

Mission Control enjoys a dedicated space which allows focus on flight operations. Outside this space, the Flight Operations team and the pilots are positioned to give an unrestricted view of ground operation areas including the apron and runway.

Virgin Galactic’s space fleet will be housed in the Gateway to Space hangar which is already home to VMS Eve. This huge expanse in the middle of the building is large enough to accommodate two carrier aircraft, each with a wingspan of 43m along with five SpaceShipTwo vehicles.

The unveiling of Gaia and Cirrus means that Spaceport America’s Gateway to Space is nearing operational status, and Virgin Galactic is on the verge of welcoming its very first Future Astronauts.

Steve May

Inside ID Editor Steve May is a freelance lifestyle and technology journalist, who also writes for Ideal Home, the i, T3, Home Cinema CHoice, TechRadar and Trusted Reviews.

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