Tag: Richard Branson

Entrepreneurial Lingo Lesson: The Pivot

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twist_chubby1_disrupt copy
First in an irregular series on entrepreneurial buzz words

Come on let’s pivot again,
Like we did last quarter!
Yeaaah, let’s pivot again,
Like we did last year!

Do you remember when,
ROI was really hummin’,
Yeaaaah, let’s pivot again,
Pivotin’ time is here!

Heeee, and round and round til IPO we go!
Oh, baby, make those investors love us so!

Let’s pivot again,
Like we did last quarter!
Yeaaah, let’s pivot again,
Like we did last year!

There comes a time in the existence of many startups when there an urgent need to change direction. You set up the company to pursue a goal, but for one reason or several — a lack of a market, shortage of investment, regulatory hurdles, a flawed concept — you have to direct all that talent, technology and enthusiasm toward a new objective that will keep the company in operation.

Continue reading ‘Entrepreneurial Lingo Lesson: The Pivot’

Smallsat Roundup: Japanese Launcher, Australia Nanosats & Virgin Funding

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LauncherOne ignites after being released from Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

LauncherOne ignites after being released from Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Japanese Startup: Nikkei Asian Review has an interview with Takahiro Inagawa, CEO of Interstellar Technologies, about his company’s plans to develop a cheap booster for launching small satellites. “Our focus is not to develop high-end rockets but something simple and affordable, just like the Super Cub (Honda Motor’s popular small motorbike),” Inagawa said. The company plans its first sounding rocket launch this summer. http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Hokkaido-startup-aims-high-in-small-satellite-launches

Orders for Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne: Business Insider Australia reports that Australian startup Sky and Space Global plans launch part of its constellation of voice and data network nanosats aboard Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne. “It is expected to not only deliver substantial cost savings, due to LauncherOne’s ability to carry multiple nano-satellites simultaneously, but will enable us to bolster our bandwidth capacity as we launch further nano-satellites into orbit,” said company founder Meir Moalem. http://www.businessinsider.com.au/australias-sky-and-space-is-using-virgin-galactic-to-launch-nanosatellites-2016-6

UPDATE: The agreement is only a letter of intent, which falls short of firm orders for launches.

Virgin Galactic Fundraising: Sky News says that Richard Branson is raising up to $300 million for “existing shareholders” for Virgin Galactic.  “The latest injection of capital is aimed at accelerating the development of Galactic’s commercial satellite venture and expanding production capacity at the company’s headquarters,” Sky News reports. Virgin Galactic declined to comment. http://news.sky.com/story/1716551/branson-injects-cash-into-galactic-space-race

Video: Musk, Bezos & Branson Talk Commercial Space

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Planetary Resources Shelves Arkyd Space Selfies Due to Lack of Funding

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Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources sent out the following cancellation and refund message today has been sent to supporters of its ARKYD Kickstarter. The campaign raised money so people could send pictures of themselves into space that would be displayed with Earth in the background.

According to the message, Planetary Resources was only going to launch the satellite if it got other people to give them even more money to fly the mission. That funding was which was not forthcoming from the multiple billionaires that back Planetary Resources (Larry Page, Eric Schmidt and Richard Branson among them) or anyone else the company targeted for funding.

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A Tale of Two Prizes

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SpaceShipOne on the floor beside the Spirit of St. Louis of the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: National Air & Space Museum)

SpaceShipOne on the floor beside the Spirit of St. Louis of the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: National Air & Space Museum)

Two major flight-related anniversaries are being celebrated this week. Today marks the 89th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo flight across the Atlantic aboard the Spirit of St. Louis. Lucky Lindy took off from New York on this date and arrived in Paris some 33.5 hours later, claiming the $25,000 Orteig Prize.

Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of the launch of X Prize (later Ansari X Prize). Inspired by the Orteig Prize, it offered $10 million for the first privately build vehicle to fly to suborbital space twice within two weeks. The Ansari X Prize was won in October 2004 by a team led by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen with SpaceShipOne.

After Lindbergh’s flight, a public that had previously shunned commercial aviation embraced it with a passion. Following the Ansari X Prize, Richard Branson vowed to begin flying tourists to space aboard a successor vehicle, SpaceShipTwo, within three years. Nearly a dozen years and four deaths later, Branson has yet to fulfill this promise.

The SpaceShipTwo program has now taken longer than it took for NASA to go from President John F. Kennedy proposal to land a man on the moon to the completion of the program with the splashdown of Apollo 17. NASA launched the space shuttle Columbia exactly 20 years after the first spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.

So, why have things taken so long? And why did one prize succeed beyond the dreams of its sponsor, while the space prize it inspired has promised so few practical results? The answer is a complex one that I addressed back in March in a story titled, “Prizes, Technology and Safety.” I’ve republished the story below with links to other posts in a series about flight safety.

Continue reading ‘A Tale of Two Prizes’

Branson Signs Deal for Supersonic Passenger Plane

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Supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom)

Supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom)

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is partnering with a start-up company called Boom on the production of a new Mach 2.2 commercial airliner. The deal will involve work by Virgin Galactic and its subsidiary, The Spaceship Company.

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L-3 Modifying Virgin Galactic’s Cosmic Girl 747 to Launch Satellites

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Virgin Galactic Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WACO, Texas, March 16, 2016 (L-3 PR) – L-3 and Virgin Galactic announced today that Virgin Galactic’s 747-400 aircraft, which serves as an airborne launch pad for its LauncherOne small satellite launch service, has arrived at L-3’s Platform Integration facilities and is entering into the next phase of its modification process.

Continue reading ‘L-3 Modifying Virgin Galactic’s Cosmic Girl 747 to Launch Satellites’

So Exactly How Safe Will SpaceShipTwo Be?

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Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 5 of 6

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the recent roll out of VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic marked a symbolic milestone in its recovery from the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed pilot Mike Alsbury.

Two questions loomed large over the celebrity-studded event. When will it fly? And how safe will it be when it does?

Company officials gave no timeline on the first question. Their answers about SpaceShipTwo’s safety differed significantly from previous claims they made over the last 11.5 years.

Continue reading ‘So Exactly How Safe Will SpaceShipTwo Be?’

Prizes, Technology and Safety

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Charles A. Lindbergh (Credit: Library of Congress)

Charles A. Lindbergh (Credit: Library of Congress)

Part 3 of 6

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

At 10:22 p.m. on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh brought the Spirit of St. Louis to a safe landing at Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris. He had just completed the first non-stop New York to Paris airplane flight, a 33.5-hour journey during which he had covered 3,600 statute miles (5,800 km). As soon as the plane stopped, Lindbergh was surrounded by thousands of people who had gathered to welcome him. The exhausted pilot had been awake for 55 hours.

Continue reading ‘Prizes, Technology and Safety’

Early Aviation & the Safety of Space Tourism

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Crashed Boeing Model 299 at Wright Field, Ohio in 1934.

Crashed Boeing Model 299 at Wright Field, Ohio in 1934.

Part 2 of 6

“I question whether our insatiable appetite for total safety is serving the needs of the exploring human inside us.”

– Stu Witt, former CEO & General Manager, Mojave Air & Space Port

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

After he won the $10 million Ansari X Prize with SpaceShipOne in October 2004, Scaled Composites Founder Burt Rutan had two goals for the SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle he was building for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

He vowed the vehicle would be at least 100 times safer than any human spacecraft that had ever flow. And the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would certify the spaceship in a manner similar to way the agency certifies aircraft.

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Start-Up Space Report Shows More Venture Capital Invested In 2015 Than In Prior 15 Years Combined

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Earth_from_space_graphic
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Tauri Group PR) – The year 2015 was a record-setting year for start-up space ventures with investment and debt financing of $2.7 billion (excluding debt financing, $2.3 billion). Nearly twice as much venture capital ($1.8 billion) was invested in space in 2015 than in the prior 15 years, combined. More than 50 venture capital firms invested in space deals in 2015, the most in any year during the 15-year study period (2000-2015).

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Text of Stephen Hawking’s Message at SpaceShipTwo Roll Out

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Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking
Recorded Message
VSS Unity Roll Out
Mojave Air & Space Port
19 February 2016

I have always dreamt of space flight. But for so many years, I thought it was just that – a dream. Confined to Earth and in a wheelchair, how could I experience the majesty of space except through imagination and my work in theoretical physics. I never thought I would have the opportunity to see our beautiful planet from space or gaze outward into the infinity beyond. This was the domain of astronauts, the lucky few who get to experience the wonder and thrill of space flight.

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Video: Virgin Galactic Rolls Out Second SpaceShipTwo

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Video Caption: Richard Branson unveils his latest gleaming Virgin Galactic passenger spaceship, over a year after a major mishap caused its sister ship to crash. Rough Cut – subtitled (no reporter narration).

Virgin Galactic Rolls Out SpaceShipTwo No. 2

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Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

MOJAVE, Calif., February 19, 2016 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, today unveiled its newly completed SpaceShipTwo. The rollout ceremony was attended by Sir Richard Branson and his family, Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts, and partners. Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity via a recorded speech and said, “I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship.”
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Mojave Ornithology Report — 02/18/16

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SpaceShipTwo in flight on Dec. 19, 2012. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo in flight on Dec. 19, 2012. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

A new bird will appear in Mojave tomorrow.

SpaceShipTwo No. 2 will be rolled out of the hanger amid as much hype and hoopla as Virgin Galactic can generate. (And they can generate A LOT. Trust me. I’ve seen it.)

Continue reading ‘Mojave Ornithology Report — 02/18/16’