Book: Virgin Galactic’s President Moses Believed Company’s Flight Projections were a “Pipe Dream”

Richard Branson’s space tourism company used similar numbers to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. Were investors duped?
Michael Moses

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nicholas Schmidle’s book about Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo is coming out on Tuesday. In an essay he wrote for The New York Times, he recounted how Virgin Galactic President Michael Moses didn’t believe the company’s own flight projections when they were presented to him by its then-chief financial officer.

At one point, I was leaked a cache of internal documents. Some revealed the depth of Virgin Galactic’s oftentimes shaky grip on reality.

In 2013, Mike Moses, at the time Virgin Galactic’s senior vice president for operations, was sent an email containing a chart from Virgin Galactic’s chief financial officer at the time, Ken Sunshine. The chart showed a radical uptick in flight operations, projecting 75 flights in 2015, 194 in 2016, 229 in 2017 and 264 in 2018. “No chance in hell,” replied Mr. Moses, who is Beth’s husband. “These numbers are a pipe dream.” (Mr. Moses, through a representative, declined to comment on those emails.)

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SpaceX Founding Team Launches Vector Space Systems to Redefine Space Commerce

Credit: Vector Space Systems
Credit: Vector Space Systems

TUSCON, Ariz., April 26, 2016 (Vector Space Systems PR) — Vector Space Systems, a Micro Satellite space launch enterprise comprised of new-space industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch, today announced it has secured more than $1M in angel funding at Space 2.0 in Silicon Valley. Vector Space Systems, which sports a roster of technology and aerospace giants to provide industry insight, expertise and leadership, was formed to fundamentally change the dynamics and economics of the space launch industry.

More than just another satellite launch company, Vector Space Systems connects space startups with affordable and reliable launch-enabling platforms and vehicles at a cost point never before possible for accessing space.  Featuring the only launch system dedicated to serving the rapidly growing Micro satellite market, Vector Space Systems aims to foster innovation throughout the market segment to spark space commerce growth through reliable and frequent launch opportunities.  In addition, Vector Space Systems is developing a platform approach to broaden the access of space technology to non-experts, extending the traditional launch vehicle only model to include space systems that permit anyone to innovate and create space applications without the need for hiring an entirely new satellite development team.

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Virgin Galactic CFO Departs After 18 Months

John S. Rego
John S. Rego

Virgin Galactic’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is departing after about 18 months on the job to serve as CFO at Tremor Video, Inc., a premium video marketplace elevating brand advertising effectiveness across all screens.

“Tremor Video is already an established leader in the advertising technology market and few industries offer such a significant opportunity for growth,” said Rego said in a press release. “I look forward to working with the entire Tremor Video team to maximize its leadership position in the industry.”

“John brings a wealth of finance experience across a wide range of companies and industries,” said Tremor Video CEO Bill Day. “He will be an integral part of Tremor Video as we continue to execute on our strategy as the leading premium video marketplace.”

Rego was named Virgin Galactic CFO in February 2014. He replaces Ken Sunshine, who joined the company as CFO in July 2011.

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Third Virgin Galactic Executive Departs as New CFO Named

John S. Rego
John S. Rego

For a company that is only months away from flying into space with paying customers, Virgin Galactic is experiencing a lot of high-level turnover. Three top level executives have left over the past two months.

Today, the company announced that it had hired John S. Rego as its new chief financial officer (CFO). He replaces Ken Sunshine, who joined the company as CFO in July 2011. The press release on Rego is reproduced below.

Virgin Galactic also saw the recent departures of Vice President of Safety Jon Turnipseed and Vice President of Propulsion Thomas Markusic. Turnipseed had joined the company in August 2010, while Markusic had been there since May 2011. Both departed in December, although Turnipseed is still listed on the website as VP of Safety.

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