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Virgin Galactic 'hiring world's first pilot-astronauts for private spacecrafts'


April 13, 2011 - Melbourne

Virgin Galactic is hiring the world's first pilot-astronauts to fly passengers into space on the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo spacecrafts, which are currently undergoing flight tests.

The spacecrafts, built to carry six passengers on sub-orbital space flights, will offer an out-of-the-seat zero gravity experience and "astounding" views of the planet, reports the News.com.au.

Only "very special" pilots should bother applying for the job. Significant experience flying high performance fast-jet planes as well as multi-engine types is necessary, while prior spaceflight experience is listed as an "advantage".

At this stage the company plans to recruit three pilot-astronauts, with the first starting in June.

Duties will also include flight planning activities, mission control co-ordination and ground-to-air support, record keeping and training.

The employees will also take part in the development and flight test of the spaceflight system.

While it is not yet known what the pilot-astronauts will be paid, astronauts with NASA are paid between 62,000 to 95,000 dollars per year and commercial pilots in Australia are paid between 30,000 to 203,000 dollars per year, according to MyCareer.

Becoming an astronaut is highly competitive, with an average of more than 4000 applicants for about 20 openings every two years.

The test flight program will continue through 2011 and the company plans to set up an operational base at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

ANI

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