Virgin Galactic Looking for a Few Good Men

In what has to be the coolest job posting ever posted in internet history, Virgin Galactic has put up a call out for potential astronauts for it’s upcoming SpaceShipTwo program.

From their website:

Virgin Galactic has launched its search for Pilot-Astronauts. This unique opportunity initially involves working as part of the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo spaceflight system test and development team in Mojave, CA, then taking the experience gained from that program to the spaceline’s commercial operations at its operating base, Spaceport America in New Mexico.

These will be the very first commercial Pilots-Astronauts, something which will undoubtedly excite the interest of a great many. Successful candidates will have to be very special: both a full course graduate of a recognised test pilot school and highly and broadly experienced. Virgin is looking for pilots with significant experience of both high performance fast-jet type airplanes as well as large multi-engine types – not only that but “prior spaceflight experience is an advantage”.

Virgin Galactic is on track to become the world’s first private spaceline. It is dedicated to becoming a world leader in sub-orbital commercial space tourism with a longer term vision to develop other space technologies that have the potential to open space to significantly more people and users.

Company objectives in the lead up to commercial operations are to confirm that the spaceflight system meets Virgin Galactic’s exacting standards, and to set up an operational base at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Virgin Galactic actively strives to promote innovation, value, integrity and a sense of enjoyment in all that it does. It will remain a very high profile part of the Virgin Group and has the potential to become its global, flagship company.

Start Date

Virgin Galactic is recruiting three Pilot-Astronauts to join its initial Pilot-Astronaut ranks. The first Pilot-Astronaut will support the ongoing flight test program of the spaceflight system and will ideally start with us in June 2011. Additional Pilot-Astronauts will be drafted as the flight test program reaches key milestones towards commercial launch activities.

Role Purpose

Reporting to the Chief Pilot, the Pilot-Astronauts primary responsibilities are to operate the spaceflight system in accordance with government regulations and company policies and procedures, delivering a sub-orbital spaceflight service to Virgin Galactic Customer-Astronauts which is as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Key Duties

In addition to flight duties with the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, Pilot-Astronaut duties will also include flight planning activities, mission control co-ordination and ground-to-air support, record keeping and training obligations.

Flight planning activities will involve route planning and airspace coordination with personnel at Spaceport America, White Sands Missile Range, the local Federal Aviation Authority Air Traffic Control and Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

Mission Control duties include ensuring the safety and continuity of the operation by taking all necessary actions and keeping all relevant parties informed.

Initial Pilot-Astronauts are responsible for training of new company Pilot-Astronauts, supervision of ground and flight training (initial and recurrent), and implementation and supervision of update and improvement programs for Pilot-Astronaut training. Pilot-Astronauts will also be involved in training activities with Customer-Astronauts prior to flight to ensure familiarity and competence with communications systems, seat and harness mechanisms and general flight procedures.

The initial corps of Virgin Galactic Pilot-Astronauts will also take part in the development and flight test of the spaceflight system. Working with Scaled Composites and The Spaceship Company, Pilot-Astronauts will monitor, advise and assist, where appropriate, in the design, development, flight testing and introduction to service of the spaceflight system. Initial Pilot-Astronauts will be responsible for evaluating the fitness-for-purpose of the spaceflight system in terms of systems, handling qualities, performance and pilot workload.

In preparation for the start of commercial operations, the initial Pilot-Astronaut corps will establish the recruitment standard for future Pilot-Astronauts and assist in the selection and training of additional commercial pilot-astronauts. They will also support the operational team in establishing company manuals, in particular defining operating procedures, mission rules, in-flight emergency response procedure, and training syllabi for Pilot-Astronauts and Customer-Astronauts.

Once commercial operations have commenced the Pilot-Astronaut will move from the role of testing the spaceflight system to regularly flying the missions. This will involve close contact with the Customer-Astronauts of Virgin Galactic; taking them through the training prior to each mission flight and ensuring a high level of service and communication are maintained at all times both on the ground and in the spaceflight system. All Pilot-Astronauts will be ambassadors of the Virgin Galactic brand, ensuring the Customer-Astronauts experience the highest customer service standards.

VG essentials for Pilot-Astronaut successful candidates:

  • Must be a US citizen – compliant with ITAR (22 CFR §120.15)
  • A current FAA commercial (or equivalent) pilot license and FAA medical (you will be required to produce evidence of both at interview)
  • Degree level qualification in a relevant technical field
  • Graduate of a recognized test pilot school, with at least 2 ½ years post-graduate flight test experience (you will be required to produce evidence at interview)
  • A diverse flying background with a minimum of 3,000 hours flying to include considerable experience of: large multi-engine aircraft and high performance fast jet aircraft and low lift-to-drag ratio glide experience (e.g. simulated flameout landings) in complex aircraft
  • Operational experience of an aerospace aviation project or business
  • Excellent, current knowledge on a diverse range of aerospace matters
  • Ability to communicate aviation knowledge and safety related information simply, succinctly and clearly
  • Previous responsibility for authorizing and implementing policies and procedures to ensure a safe and efficient operation
  • Be a proven team player

Very limited exceptions to the above may be considered for those with truly outstanding test flying or spaceflight experience.

Preference will be given to those with experience of:

  • Spaceflight
  • Commercial flight operations
  • Flight instruction

Do you have what it takes? Click here to apply.

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