Astronaut Chris Hadfield stepped into Alton Towers today (March 14) to become the first person to officially try out new attraction and rollercoaster Galactica, a world first in that it's dedicated to virtual reality.

Chris Hadfield is the first official rider

Chris Hadfield is the first official rider

Famous for having sung 'Space Oddity' from the International Space Centre, Hadfield swapped reality for a virtual world in Staffordshire this morning ahead of the ride's official opening on March 24.

Speaking after his ride, Hadfield said: "This is one of the best rides I've ever been on and I've been on some rides! I've been lucky enough to serve on three space flights, including five months on the International Space Station, but this is as close as I've come to a virtual trip across the universe.

"As Galactica launches you through its opening space portal, the view looking down over the Earth is simply incredible. Having seen this for real, it certainly makes the exhilaration of space travel possible for people that would never otherwise get to see such amazing sights. The ride is visually and sensually evocative and I'm sure it will capture the imagination of all those that board it."

Marketing Director at Alton Towers Resort, Gill Riley adds: "It's been an honour to welcome Chris on board Galactica today and we hope the thousands of passengers set to experience the ride this year will have the same reaction that he did. There is nowhere else in the world that people can experience the sensation of flying through space as you physically soar through the air - which is what makes Galactica such a game-changer.

"The new ride experience combines the physical exertion and adrenaline rush of Alton Towers Resort's iconic flying rollercoaster, with the emotive experience of travelling through space. Galactica is a completely unique rollercoaster experience and we can't wait to open it to the public in just over a weeks' time."

The launch of Galactica is just part of an innovative year for the Resort, which will also be launching its Rollercoaster Restaurant in May.

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