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Kiwi Astronauts Begin Space Training Programme

Kiwi Astronauts Begin Space Training Programme

By Fleur Revell
26 August 2014

Nine Kiwi space tourists have embarked on a rigorous astronaut training programme to prepare themselves for their upcoming space flight on Virgin Galactic’s new extra-terrestrial service.

Official Space Travel Agent Katrina Cole from House of Travel says a recent acceleration in test flights and preparation of local accommodation for the international guests to the Spaceport America launch site in New Mexico is a strong indicator the launch date will be within the coming months.

These developments have seen the Kiwi space tourism contingent eager to complete their astronaut training before take-off, says Cole.

She says the centrifuge and zero gravity training will help the astronauts to prepare for space travel before the launch of the inaugural Virgin flight.

The Virgin Galactic three day training programme involves a thorough medical examination, and detailed outline of the experience for the passengers, she says.

The future astronauts will be a part of the overall mission crew when they go to space so will spend time meeting their team, the pilots and being familiarised with the flight profile. They will go through high and micro gravity training to acclimatise themselves with the effect of the g-force and zero gravity they will experience on their flight and how to handle them.

Mr John Dunn a surgeon says the once in a life time opportunity is now fast becoming a reality. He has completed the training and says it gave him a taste of what to expect before heading into space.

"The extreme g-force provided by the centrifuge training provides a close approximation of the rigors of travelling beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

“Experiencing weightlessness during the zero-g flights has also helped me understand the physical sensations I can expect while travelling beyond the constraints of Earth’s gravity,” says Mr Dunn.

Cole says the goal is to avoid G-LOC or gravity induced loss of consciousness.

"G-LOC can cause astronauts to pass out for up to 28 seconds, although that doesn't sound like much - it’s a significant gap in a unique experience, they won’t want to miss a second," says Cole.

Alongside the g-force training the trainee astronauts will be preparing for their flight through private consultations, medical sessions, flight suit fittings and other activities to ensure they are thoroughly familiar with all the safety and emergency procedures.

“We do not want anything to distract from the flight experience, so the future astronauts will also spend time in a lifelike mock-up of the SpaceShipTwo cabin, where they will test their seat configuration and get to know the cabin setup.

“This will form part of the full rehearsals, so that on flight day the Future Astronauts are fully trained, comfortable, confident and ready for the experience of a lifetime,” says Cole.

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