Virgin Galactic wants to make the world a better place by giving a lot more people some much-needed perspective.
Company representatives have voiced a strong belief in the “overview effect.” That’s the idea that seeing Earth as it truly is, a gorgeous but lonely outpost of life bobbing in a seemingly endless void, fundamentally changes the way people think about their home world.
“The more people that see the Earth from above, the more change you can make on Earth,” Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses said Thursday (Feb. 8) at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
“You bring space back home with you, and to be able to give people that perspective in a much broader swath than we ever have before — I think that’s the future,” Moses added.
He spoke at a ceremony celebrating the donation to the National Air and Space Museum of RocketMotorTwo, which powered Virgin Galactic’s newest SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity, on its first-ever trip to suborbital space this past December.
That Dec. 13 test flight, which was piloted by Mark “Forger” Stucky and Frederick “CJ” Sturckow, was the first crewed mission to launch to space from U.S. soil since NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in July 2011. The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Stucky and Sturckow commercial astronaut wings for the achievement on Thursday, during a different ceremony held at the Department of Transportation in Washington.
Virgin Galactic isn’t the only big player in the suborbital-tourism business. Blue Origin, which is run by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, is developing a rocket-capsule combo called New Shepard to take people and payloads to suborbital space and back. New Shepard commercial flights could begin as early as this year if everything goes well, company representatives have said.