Mojave Jobs: Virgin Galactic Needs a Vice President of Safety

SpaceShipTwo lights its engine as WhiteKnightTwo flies overhead. (Credit: Ken Brown)
SpaceShipTwo lights its engine as WhiteKnightTwo flies overhead. (Credit: Ken Brown)

Parabolic Arc is pleased to launch a new series looking at job openings here in Mojave. Today we’re taking a closer look at Virgin Galactic, which plans to launch commercial space tourism later this year. The space tourism company, which says that safety is its North Star, needs a vice president of safety.

This position has been advertised on the Virgin Galactic website for months now. Jon Turnipseed is listed as holding that position on Our Team section of the Virgin Galactic website. Oddly enough, multiple sources in Mojave say he has been gone from that post since around the beginning of last summer even as SpaceShipTwo has performed two powered flights. So, this must be a difficult position to fill.

UPDATE VIA WILL POMERANTZ: Some info on that specific job opening, since the rumor mill is churning out bad data (as seems to be the case so often): Jon Turnipseed’s last day as a full time employee was Dec 19, but he is still serving as a contractor to the company. Jon left big shoes to fill when he retired after spending several years here at VG/TSC (in addition to a great career with the US Air Force), but we are now interviewing our final candidates for the job. Of course, we remain open to great candidates who haven’t yet gotten in touch—it’s  important to get the best possible person for the job!


ust how hard is that position to fill? Well, let’s look at the duties and requirements, shall we?


Opinion: Space Tourism Needs Mandatory Safety Standards

Space tourism must have safety standards
New Scientist

“Campaigners are lobbying the UN to create minimum safety standards for civilian spacecraft. This makes good sense. It should be possible to set standards that provide some protection for customers while still allowing innovation. No one wants to stifle creativity, but the one thing guaranteed to stop the space tourism industry in its tracks would be a tragic and avoidable accident.”

Oh no….a Legal Black Hole…This Doesn’t Sound Good….

Space tourism flies into a legal black hole
New Scientist

“The civilian space flight industry is on a high, and nowhere was this more apparent than at the International Aeronautical Congress in Glasgow, UK, last month, where executives wielding slick promotional videos and models of “nearly ready” spacecraft were promising sub-orbital flights to people with deep pockets.

“Yet despite growing confidence, a serious note of caution is being sounded: can civilian spacecraft ever be as safe as holiday airliners? At the moment there are no …

What? No What? Little packets of peanuts? Beverage service? The Skymall catalog?