Three Virgin Galactic pilots receive commercial astronaut wings

Beth Moses - chief astronaut instructor on board Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo test flight - 22nd Feb 2019

Beth Moses has become the first woman in history to be awarded the prestigious Commercial Astronaut Wings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Chief Astronaut Instructor Moses, alongside Chief Pilot Dave Mackay and Lead Pilot trainer Mike ‘Sooch’ Masucci, were presented their wings at the 35th National Space Symposium, where it was also announced that Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company (TSC) are to be presented the Space Achievement Award later this week.

Moses said: “It was an honour to receive my Commercial Astronaut Wings today. Since the flight we have been assessing the findings from my cabin evaluations; I’m excited by what the results are showing and looking forward to incorporating what we learnt into our cabin outfitting and astronaut training programme.”

The crew became the fifth, sixth and seventh people to receive the wings, and they were presented by the FAA’S associate administrator for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Wayne R. Monteith. He said: “Commercial human spaceflight is now a reality. These wings are just a small recognition for the truly remarkable achievement by these crew members to reach outer space.  It shows we are well on the way into this new and exciting chapter of space travel.”

The February 22nd test flight completed Virgin Galactic’s second spaceflight in 10 weeks and saw the crew rocket into space at more than three times the speed of sound. As the spaceship coasted to apogee, Beth, who became the first woman to fly to space on a commercial spaceship, floated free to complete a number of cabin validation checks.

Richard Branson sent a message of congratulations to the crew: “Seeing Dave, Mike and Beth receive their Commercial Astronaut Wings is a proud moment for all of us at Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company. Our pilots executed a perfect flight and it was wonderful to have Beth float free to conduct our first live cabin evaluation. The flight was another historic moment as we continue towards our mission of becoming the world’s first commercial spaceline.”

And of course, Richard himself is getting ready to join Dave, Mile and Beth on the podium in a few years. 

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