Astronaut in training

VSS Unity in space with Earth in the background
Image by Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 29 March 2020

Virgin Galactic has reached so many milestones recently.

It’s proving to be a very exciting time for space travel and one of the most magical chapters of my life.   

In December, our VSS Unity spaceship reached space for the very first time.

Richard Branson shakes hands with Virgin Galactic pilot Rick "CJ" Sturckow
Image by Virgin Galactic

In February, this was followed by a second successful test flight.

In between the two, Virgin Galactic pilots Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and ‘CJ’ Sturckow were awarded their Commercial Astronaut Wings and SpaceShipTwo’s hybrid rocket motor was donated to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind few months.

View of Earth from VSS Unity during Virgin Galactic's second spaceflight
Image by Virgin Galactic

It was such a privilege to attend the rocket motor’s unveiling ceremony at the Air and Space Museum and to see this piece of our story become solidified in history.

It was quite surreal – a moment that was once only accessible in my teenage dreams when I looked up in wonder at the moon landings.

But that is what this adventure is all about – making space accessible and changing the world for good.

One of the highlights of the ceremony at the Smithsonian was when Mark gave a speech about his journey becoming a Virgin Galactic space pilot.

Richard Branson at the National Air and Space Museum
Image by the Smithsonian Institution

He explained how he had received a t-shirt 10-years-ago that read ‘future astronaut training program’. 

“I didn’t have the guts to wear it for a number of years, because I didn’t think I’d get that far,” he said. Little did Mark know that within a decade he would receive his Commercial Astronaut Wings.

At this point in his speech, Mark turned to me and said it was time to pass the t-shirt on. He then pulled the bright yellow t-shirt from inside one of his boots and handed it to me on stage. 

I was so excited that I ripped my shirt off and threw it on right away, much to everyone’s amusement.

Virgin Galactic pilot Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Richard Branson
Image by the Smithsonian Institution

This extra motivation could not have come at a better time as I increase my training to get myself in top shape for my own space expedition.

I’m really focussing on my fitness, nutrition and training, with support from Virgin Galactic’s Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses.

In February, Beth became the first woman to fly on a commercial spaceship on board VSS Unity’s second successful test flight. Needless to say, it’s been invaluable to have her first-hand experience.  

We need a united front to take on the final frontier and I’m really grateful to be surrounded by such capable individuals on this adventure. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter has in store.