Written by Staff Writer
Six teenage girls are getting ready to blast off in the sky with Virgin Galactic’s first spaceship.
On Thursday, the U.S. Air Force Academy’s School of Aerospace Studies and veteran pilots were training the young women to be astronauts.
They’ve been through eight months of rigorous training at the Arizona base’s Space Corps camp.
Their training ends Friday, when they launch aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo supersonic ship.
“It’s been a really great experience,” Teagan Bourne says.
Teagan Bourne trained for six months for Virgin Galactic’s space missions. Courtesy Sheena Healy/Virgin Galactic
Mapping future astronaut candidates
At the start of her journey, Teagan said she was a little nervous about what awaited her on the launch pad.
But the preparations have been challenging, and it’s been a privilege, she said.
Teagan Bourne’s friends Emma Smyers, Katherine Heigel and Molly Howell face five flights of up to 100 mph with a 2,600 foot drop. Virgin Galactic
So far, they’ve found a sense of community that filled them with confidence as they trained for their mission.
“We’re very bonded and people have really stepped up to the plate,” Knox Blahous, who started the camp, said in the video.
Knox Blahous, center, with the 6 teenage girls he’s trained at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Courtesy Sheena Healy/Virgin Galactic
They’ve also learned to be astronauts.
“It’s pretty intense,” he said. “It’s not just math and science. It’s about engineering.”
Knox and other instructors have mapped out their actions. They’ve practiced flying the spaceship.
Since 2016, this camp has been a regular feature at the Air Force Academy, which requires all its astronauts to finish this training course first.
Nine U.S. Air Force Academy astronauts have qualified to launch into space from their Space Corps unit, which launched its first two-person vehicle earlier this year.
Virgin Galactic has been in the midst of its first test flight since 2014.
Its first aircraft, a 62-foot (18-meter) wide model of SpaceShipTwo, took to the skies last year and has been undergoing continual testing.
Earlier this month, Virgin Galactic officials confirmed that the company is planning to launch its first commercial flight in 2019.
The company has a six-passenger version of the SpaceShipTwo, which took off for the first time in 2014.