Virgin Galactic’s Millionauts Will Look Fabulous When They Fly in 2013

The fabulously attired astronauts aboard Hugo Drax's space station/nerve gas delivery facility get a taste of zero g, courtesy of Bond, James Bond. (Copyright: United Artists)

A couple of brief updates on Virgin Galactic.

Chef Pilot David Mckay tells The Wall Street Journal’s Andy Pasztor that the company wants to begin flying passengers by 2013:

“‘We would certainly like to be in commercial operation by then,'” said Mr. Mackay, a former airline captain and Royal Air Force test pilot.”

With powered tests using the hybrid engine set to begin in the second quarter of 2012, this would be seem to be a reasonable schedule. Pasztor says the company has invested $270 million thus far; Virgin officials have said they expect the entire effort to cost $400 million.

Meanwhile, Rob Coppinger reports that when VG’s millionaut clients fly, they will look fabulous in soft spacesuits that will resemble the ones that James Bond and Dr. Holly Goodhead (I’m not making that name up)  work in the 1979 film “Moonraker.”

“Virgin Galactic’s customers are to wear personalized flight suits, soft-soled shoes and a soft flight helmet that contains headphones and a microphone. The helmet will be able to have an oxygen mask attached, in the event of an emergency,” Coppinger reports.

The space costumes in the movie looked fine, so that’s probably a good move by VG. As for the film, the Bond franchise had descended into camp by this point, with Roger Moore smirking his way to some very large paychecks. And the screenwriters — bereft of any original ideas — had the villain once again place a giant space weapon in orbit that Bond would need to disable. (This plot device would be used well in the Pierce Brosnan era, with the saving grace that Bond did not go back into space again.)

So, thumbs up on the spacesuits; thumbs way down on the film. And with that film commentary, I believe I have fulfilled the fair use requirement for the above image. Suck on that, Roger!