Apr 8, 2010 8:42 AM, By Marian Sandberg

LD John Featherstone lit the unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, complete with a desert storm.

When Virgin Galactic wanted to unveil SpaceShipTwo (SS2)— the world’s first commercial space line and christened VSS Enterprise —at an event in December at Mojave Spaceport in California, VIPs including Sir Richard Branson, Governors Bill Richardson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and others turned out to celebrate this milestone. John Featherstone of Lightswitch was asked to join the creative team at Group Delphi, where, in addition to providing lighting design, he was a key member of the creative team that developed the overall look and feel of the project.

We caught up with him after the event, plus check out the video from the event, as well as footage of Group Delphi’s animation of the original creative.

LD: Tell us a little about the event.
John Featherstone: It was the much anticipated roll out of Virgin Galactic’s Space ShipTwo. To quote them: “Fighting against the stormy Mojave weather, SpaceShipTwo was rolled out today to a spectacular display at Mojave Spaceport…Despite gale force winds and stormy weather, guests gathered on the runway after the press conference to see SpaceShipTwo for the first time. The spaceship was carried down the runway by her mothership, VMS Eve, to a spectacular display of lights, music, and snow which only helped increase the anticipation of her arrival and excitement and awe as she appeared before the crowds.

LD: What was the look you were going for?
JF: The concept for the event was to maximize the breathtaking beauty of the Mojave site and present SS2 to the audience of dignitaries, press, astronauts, and accredited space agents in a stunning, exciting, and memorable fashion.

LD: You talk about good planning. How did that prevent possible disaster when the storm arose?
JF: The Group Delphi team was proactive in terms of defining both possible scenarios and courses of action in the event—that certain criteria were met. This meant that not only were production staff equipped with the necessary procedures to follow, but the client clearly understood what were the ‘tipping points’ and the impact of those tipping points.

LD: Okay, so we know the challenges that Mother Nature provided, but were there any other technical or setup issues?
JF: Other than Mother Nature, the simple fact of the show being staged at the end of a runway, on an active airport, in a remote small town, it was a piece of cake!!

LD: How was the site set up?
JF: The site was divided into several discrete areas: the exterior and reveal, with the lighting of the presentation, “DNA of Spaceflight,” and the exterior of the structures and event space; a large, 180’x 80’ clear-span tent used for the press briefing and the party post-reveal; and two inflatable structures, used as a “dance pod,” and a “party pod.”

LD: Was anything permanently damaged?
JF: Of course, due to the extreme environmental conditions, there was equipment damaged, but ultimately, the result of the event was that it was hugely successful in the eyes of the client and attendees, and no one was hurt—not even a scratch.