Virgin Galactic sent a test passenger on a spaceflight on Friday, February 22nd for the first time ever, taking another large step toward sending paying customers to space.
Only hours after the flight on the vehicle owned by billionaire Richard Branson's company, the three crew members spoke to CNBC about their experience. The crew included chief astronaut trainer Beth Moses, chief pilot Dave Mackay and lead trainer pilot Michael "Sooch" Masucci, and it was the maiden spaceflight for all three of them.
Needless to say, their first impressions were dazzling.
"The Earth was so beautiful and so clear," Moses said. "It was sensationally intense."
Mackay stated: "It's the first time I've been in space and the views are absolutely extraordinary. It's an extraordinary experience."
And Masucci added that "it really was very surreal. What I really took away was how quiet it was ... I just took away the peacefulness."
Each of them commented on the clarity of the view out the spacecraft's windows. Masucci noted that, nearly 300,000 feet above California's Mojave Desert, he took in views that spanned from San Francisco to the southern tip of Baja California, and to the mountains east of Nevada.
"I couldn't believe how much I could see, how far I could see and how clear everything was – how dark the black sky of space was and how bright the planet was. And how silent it was up there," Mackay said.
MacKay, Masucci, and Moses joined a list of fewer than 600 human beings who have flown in space. Additionally, Moses became the first woman to fly in space on a U.S. commercial spacecraft.
"Today was the fulfillment of personal lifelong ambition," Moses said. "But more so, it was the start of something great for all of humanity – ourselves and other commercial companies, we are aiming to take people off the planet."
She added that "aerospace is open to all professions." The space industry and the companies within it "need all professions, not just engineers or pilots or astronauts," Moses said.
Credits: CNBC News