Richard Branson Returning to Mojave With Brian Cox in Tow

Richard Branson addresses the crowd before SpaceShipTwo’s glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

A source tells us that Richard Branson is scheduled to return to Mojave next week to lead a tour for some of Virgin Galactic’s roughly 700 ticket holders. Virgin does these trips for ticket holders periodically, but the boss doesn’t always participate, so this is a BFD.

Along for the trip will be Brian Cox, a British physicist and well-known television presenter, the source tells us. We here at ParacolicArc weren’t  sure exactly what that was at first. We initially envisioned someone who shows up at the house along with your new TV to explain its features of your new flast screen, program the remote, hook up the satellite receiver, and do all the rest of it.

That was wrong. It turns out a television presenter is what we Americans call a host. Cox appears to be their version of Neil deGrasse Tyson and/or Bill Nye.

Cox was very vocal in supporting Virgin Galactic after the Oct. 31, 2014 fatal accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury.

Readers of this blog will recall Branson was here on Dec. 1 to witness the second SpaceShipTwo’s first glide flight. SpaceShipTwo flew again on Dec. 22, but has not done a glide flight since.

With Branson showing up with the ticket holders and Cox in tow, it’s a good bet another glide flight is coming soon. The boss won’t want to explain a two-month gap in flights to folks who have been waiting years for their trip to space.

Update: It’s occurred to me that Virgin Galactic rolled out SpaceShipTwo No. 2 on Feb. 19, 2016. So, the visit next week is coming a year later.

That’s good timing from a PR perspective. There have been only two glide flights to date.  A visit by Branson with Brian Cox and ticket holders in tow is a good distraction for anyone (press, public or customers) who might question the pace of the flight test program.

The timing fits a pattern. WhiteKnightTwo was rolled out a year and two days after the fatal nitrous oxide explosion that killed three engineers. Virgin attempted the first drop test of the second SpaceShipTwo two years and a day after the first spacecraft was destroyed. (It was scrubbed by weather, and the first flight was not completed until a month later.)

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  • Albinas Bambukas

    I’ve seen some of Cox’s documentaries and I’ve found him to be quite good. He’ll probably be there to explain to the general public what VG is doing.

  • Bulldog

    Agreed, Brian Cox has a very direct, understated style, one of the best populist science presenters out there. If you do some searching, you’ll find a particularly good episode of Wonders of the Solar System entitled “The Thin Blue Line” in which Prof. Cox takes a ride to 60,000 ft. in an English Electric Lightning. One can understand Cox’s interest in the SSII program, Branson is fortunate to have him in the Virgin Galactic fold.

  • Brian Cox thinks religion is compatible with science.

    Brian Cox is a CRANK. Crank on, Brian.

  • I found his views in the compatibility of religion and science to be extra cranky.

    That pretty much invalidates anything he has to say about science to me.

    The question for me – is Brian Cox more cranky or less cranky that Bill Nye.

  • Albinas Bambukas

    Source?

  • You could try searching ‘Brian Cox religion’ on the news.

    Or do I have to do that for you?

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Well? Mr Branson will probably never invite Doug Messier to any function.
    LOL!…I don’t think there is any love lost between the two. Oh, kiss and make up!

  • Kenneth_Brown

    Brian Cox is a physicist that has worked at The Large Hadron Collider and is a popular “host” of science programs in the UK. I’ve got loads of programs he has presented, Doug. He was also in a band way back before college that had a #1 hit in the UK.

    There is a ton of stuff on YouTube and he also hosts a podcast called “The Infinite Monkey Cage”.

  • Paul Thomas

    Keyboard player in D.ream..
    He definitely knows what he is talking about, and puts the science across in a very understandable way.
    I advise everyone to look at his BBC documentaries