Branson brings Virgin Galactic to CERN

Sir Richard Branson and some of Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts enjoy their guided tour of the SM18 building (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

Last week CERN was visited by almost seventy participants of the Virgin Galactic space programme. They were joined by Sir Richard Branson, the famous explorer who founded the Virgin group.

 The Virgin Galactic programme is building the world’s first commercial spacecraft, and offers individuals the chance to purchase a ticket to become a space tourist. 

“CERN has created a place scientists can come and use incredible machinery to discover things and push barriers forward. It’s only through the exploration of the unknown that we can continue to grow and evolve,” Branson explained – something many of CERN’s community understand, as they strive to answer fundamental questions about our universe.

The ‘future astronauts’ were taken on a tour of SM18, the AMS control room and the CCC.

“To have an opportunity to visit CERN is a once in a lifetime opportunity so there’s no way we were going to miss it. We’re all, obviously, interested in once in a lifetime chances,” laughs Michael Gamerl, a future astronaut for the Virgin Galactic programme, who visited from California.

VIP visit,Personalities and History of CERN
Virgin Galactic has built a community of future astronauts who sign up to various events while they wait for their space flight. The CERN tour was their most popular visit yet. (Image: Sophia Bennett/ CERN)

The group chose to come on this tour as part of this programme, after several of the future astronauts told the organising team that visiting CERN featured highly on their ‘bucket lists’.

“I find it fascinating, exploring, whether in a laboratory or going on an adventure – that’s how you want to live life,” says Gamerl.

Watch the video below to see more highlights from the Virgin Galactic visit:

Virgin Galactic visited CERN with a group of future astronauts and Sir Richard Branson. During their visit the group was shown around various experiments, including the Globe, SM18, AMS and the CERN Control Centre. (Video: Hugo Chemli/ CERN)