TAKING A SPIN IN SPACEVIRTUOSO ACCREDITED SPACE AGENTS RECEIVE SPACE FLIGHT TRAININGVIRGIN GALACTIC HOSTS FORUM AT THE NASTAR® CENTER AND HOLDS PRIVATE SPACESHIPTWO MODEL UNVEILING FOR THE WORLD’S ONLY ACCREDITED SPACE AGENTS
NEW YORK (February 20, 2008) For 46 adventurous travel advisors, the dream of space travel for the common man is one step closer to reality. Last week at Philadelphia’s National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR®) Center, Virgin Galactic hosted its inaugural Accredited Space Agent (ASA) Forum for the world’s first space agents, 24 of which belong to luxury travel’s leading agency network, Virtuoso. The forum attracted 19 Virtuoso ASAs from across the United States, two from Canada and three from Australia, accounting for more than half of the ASAs in attendance. Hand-selected and trained by Virgin Galactic, these ASAs are the first and only travel advisors allowed to reserve seats aboard Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space flights. During the two-day Forum, Virgin Galactic provided the ASAs with updates on their program and facilitated a series of panel and roundtable discussions. Would-be astronauts also had the opportunity to experience a mock trip into space in NASTAR Center’s Space Training Simulator. These space pioneers proved they have the right stuff, achieving G-forces upwards of 3.0 during their take-off and reentry simulation. For those tasked with selling Virgin Galactic’s $200,000 suborbital flights, slated to launch in late 2009, this first-hand knowledge is invaluable. Virtuoso CEO Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC, was in attendance, both in support of the network’s ASAs and as a Virgin Galactic Founder, one of the first 100 astronauts who will experience the suborbital flight. Upchurch, who foresees this as a life-changing experience, stated, “The three days I spent with Virgin Galactic were among the most exhilarating of my life, both on a personal and professional level. Space travel is no longer something of fiction. It is real, and the impact it will have on the world and the way we travel is beyond anything we can even comprehend at this point.” Following the Forum, the ASAs continued on to New York for a private unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft models. During the history-making event, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and legendary aerospace designer and winner of the Ansari X PRIZE, Burt Rutan, revealed the new designs for SpaceShipTwo and its launching aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo. According to Upchurch, “The audience was simply awestruck when Sir Richard and Burt Rutan unveiled the designs. It was unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. It represents another pioneering step forward in aviation and the most promising step toward space tourism; a step Virtuoso, our Members and Virgin Galactic are taking together.” During the unveiling, Sir Richard Branson acknowledged the efforts of all ASAs who are serving as space-travel ambassadors as well as the worldwide sales force for his product. Although the relationship has just hit the one-year mark, Virtuoso currently accounts for approximately 30% of Virgin Galactic’s bookings. To date, Virgin Galactic has collected approximately $30 million in deposits. Upchurch expressed his appreciation to Branson and the entire Virgin Galactic organization for recognizing the significant role that travel advisors can play in representing this innovative concept to the public. “With such a unique product, Virgin Galactic could have easily opted to take direct bookings from consumers,” said Upchurch. “It is a wonderful tribute to the travel agency profession that Virgin Galactic chose travel advisors to represent their groundbreaking product around the globe and, of course, we are deeply honored that they selected Virtuoso as their exclusive network in the Americas.” In December 2006, Virgin Galactic named the Virtuoso member advisors who would become Accredited Space Agents. Says Carolyn Wincer, Head of Astronaut Sales for Virgin Galactic, “It is immensely important to our product and brand to have the right professionals associated with Virgin Galactic. Given our longstanding relationship with Virtuoso, we know their Members are on the forefront of what’s next in travel; they understand unique experiences and the mindset of travelers who seek them. We could think of no other organization that would represent us better or demonstrate a stronger commitment to achieving sales than Virtuoso.”
About Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic is a company established by Richard Branson's Virgin Group to undertake the challenge of developing space tourism for everybody. It will own and operate privately built spaceships, modeled on the history-making SpaceShipOne craft. These spaceships will allow affordable sub-orbital space tourism for the first time in our history. Virgin Galactic will run as a business with the sole purpose of making space travel more and more affordable to people throughout the world. They will reinvest funds made over the first few years back into the business striving constantly to lower prices.
Virgin Galactic Three-Day Experience
Virgin Galactic Three-Day Experience
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