Movement on Firefly-Virgin Galactic Legal Dispute?

This is an interesting Tweet from Firefly Space Systems’ co-founder Michael A. Blum on Wednesday to Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides with a cc: to Whitesides’ boss, Richard Branson. Claude appears to be Claude M. Stern, one of Virgin Galactic’s lawyers.

The two companies have been involved in a legal dispute for two years. Virgin Galactic took their former vice president of propulsion, Tom Markusic, to arbitration, charging he took confidential material with him when he left Virgin to found Firefly at the end of 2013.

The arbitration has spilled out into the courts, with the parties filing legal actions against each other. Last month, Virgin Galactic filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Firefly, Blum and co-founder P.J. King, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition.

The lawsuit alleges that Firefly, Blum and King benefited from knowledge that Markusic took with him from Virgin Galactic. Markusic and the defendants have denied the claims.

Firefly furloughed all of its employees at the end of September, saying the company had run out of money after an investor pulled out.

Earlier this week, Firefly announced it had received letters of intent (LOI) for 42 launches from prospective customers through the end of 2021, which the company valued at more than $300M. The company said an additional 35 launches valued at more than $280 million had been “requested” through 2025.

Firefly has been developing a small satellite launcher, Firefly Alpha, that would compete for business with the LauncherOne booster that Virgin Galactic has under development.