It’s Show-and-Tell Time Again for Virgin Galactic in New Mexico

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nearly eight years after Richard Branson dedicated the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space at Spaceport America before a crowd that included Titanic star Kate Winslet and British royal Princess Beatrice, his suborbital space tourism company is moving its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft there.

When Branson dedicated the gateway facility in October 2011, the giant building was largely empty. Virgin Galactic says it is now ready to show off what customers will experience inside the structure.


SpaceShipTwo Nearly Crashed in 2011

SpaceShipTwo, ready for its closeup. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
SpaceShipTwo, ready for its closeup. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Ship Entered Inverted Flat Spin
Officials Downplayed Incident at Time
Near Disaster Cancelled Glide Flight at Spaceport America

The SpaceShipTwo vehicle that crashed one year ago nearly met its end three years earlier during a hair-raising flight test that officials at builder Scaled Composites and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic downplayed at the time, according to documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).


Report: Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis Among Couples Awaiting Flights Aboard SpaceShipTwo

Mila Kunis (© Glenn Francis,
Mila Kunis (© Glenn Francis,

Rupert “I know NOTH-THING!” Murdoch’s always entertaining and occasionally reliable British tabloid, The Sun, reports the latest celebritynaut rumor: Ashton Kutcher and main squeeze Mila Kunis will honeymoon aboard Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo next year after getting married this September, probably on a beach in St Tropez.

All this according to an anonymous pal of the Hollywood power couple:

A pal of the pair said: “They decided together they want their big day in September, probably on one of St Tropez’s beaches.

“Ashton is already going into space on Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight and he has said Mila will definitely be at his side as his honeymoon present.”

The pair agreed they want to get hitched as soon as possible while sunning themselves in St Tropez with new pals Princess Beatrice and her boyfriend Dave Clark. Ashton won’t have to pull many strings to get Mila on to the space voyage.

Dave is head of “astronaut relations” for the Virgin Galactic programme — and he got friendly with Ashton when the actor snapped up the 500th ticket for the first flights.


Celebritynaut Update: Princess Bea’s Wedding Hat for Sale

The “gravity defying hat”  worn by rumored royalnaut Princess Beatrice to the wedding of Prince Whatshisname and Kate Whosawhatsit is up for sale on eBay.

Bidding on the wacky headpiece, reputedly designed by Britain’s super secret Ministry of Funny Hats, had reached GBP 80,000 (approximately $129,560) as of Saturday evening EST.

The princess, fifth in line to the British throne, is reported to have a ticket to fly a suborbital space tourism flight aboard Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo vehicle.


Celebritynaut Update: Is a Royal Space Wedding in the Offing?

Richard Branson poses with Virgin Galactic ticketholders and staff members in front of WhiteKnightTwo.

With commercial space tourism a mere 15 months away — at least according to Richard Branson’s latest prediction to end all predictions, and he’s never wrong about such things — we’ll soon be confronted with a brand new species of humans: the celebritynaut. Yes, the folks who already have everything will soon have even more to set them apart from the rest of us. And boy will they flaunt it something sickly. Your eyes will bleed pumpkins reading about it!

In an effort to prepare the recession-racked world for this new era of conspicuous in-your-face consumption, Parabolic Arc will be profiling some of those who will soon take the ultimate roller coaster ride in the sky. We’ll start with one Brit rumo(u)red to hold a ticket who actually outranks even Sir Richard — not due to any actual life achievements, mind you. But, simply by being born into a filthy rich family that my country hasn’t had much use for in over two centuries, and having a “special relationship,” should we say, with one of Virgin Galactic’s key American employees.

Parabolic Arc is please to present….


Branson to Officiate Over First Space Wedding; Will Princess Beatrice be the Bride?

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson could preside over the first marriage in space aboard his SpaceShipTwo vehicle next year, The Daily Mail reports.

Although the pair is unidentified, the article notes that British Princess Beatrice, the 19-year-old daughter of Sarah Ferguson, wants to be the first royal married in space. Beatrice, fifth in line to the British throne, is involved with Dave Clark, who works in Virgin Galactic’s marketing department.

The couple can probably get a discount on the $200,000 per person flight, although Beatrice would have no trouble paying for it. The Mail reports that the club-hopping royal was recently looking at a £4.25 million ($8.5 million) four-bedroom, four-bathroom house in the tony London neighborhood of Belgravia.

Whoever the bride and groom are, they presumably would be married during the roughly five minutes of weightlessness they would enjoy during the suborbital flight, which will fly to an altitude of around 68 miles.

Presiding over weddings has become somewhat of a sideline for the brash, publicity savvy Branson. Last year, he became a minister for a day through an online church to officiate over the wedding of Virgin America marketing director Dimitrios Papadognonas and Coco Jones during a Virgin America Airlines flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas. The British billionaire also helped officiate over Google founder Larry Page’s wedding, which was held on Branson’s private Caribbean island.

It’s an interesting approach to nuptials. Weddings are usually about putting the couple up on a pedestal. One never upstages the bride and groom – especially the bride. Having a world famous, publicity-seeking billionaire presiding over the ceremony would tend to do precisely that. Unless, of course, you’re British royalty and outrank him.

On the other hand, who’s going to tell Richard Branson that you don’t want him to preside over the first wedding ever held in outer space aboard his own space plane? Probably no one. I suppose you would treat it as an honor and roll with it.

Richard Branson to take father, 92, on first space flight

The first flight of SpaceShipTwo will be a family affair: Sir Richard Branson plans to take his 92-year-old father Ted and his 89-year-old mother Eve on the flight with him on the suborbital tourism jaunt.

Branson also will take his two children, Holly and Sam, on the inaugural flight, which is expected to take place in about 18 months. Also scheduled for the first flight: British Princess Beatrice, who is dating Virgin Galactic’s director of astronaut relations, Dave Clark.