Space Foundation Releases “The Space Report 2021 Q4,” Reflecting on Record-breaking Year in Space

  • Global launch attempts reached a record 145 in 2021, exceeding 143 in 1967
  • Successful launches globally totaled 134, breaking previous record of 128
  • U.S. tallied highest percentage of global commercial launches with 32

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Jan. 18, 2022 (Space Foundation PR) — Space Foundation, a nonprofit advocate organization founded in 1983 for the global space ecosystem, today released “The Space Report 2021 Q4,” which looks back at the historic level of launch activity that took place globally last year and breaks down orbital launch attempts by each spacefaring nation.

Summarizing the latest edition, Space Foundation CEO Tom Zelibor commented, “The space ecosystem has been buzzing with excitement about an emergent space renaissance for several years. This edition unequivocally validates that we have reached a new high point. I always say, ‘There is no better time to be a part of the space economy,’ and with record-breaking growth in 2021 and so many promising new initiatives already underway in 2022, that has never been a truer statement.”

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Space Tourism Money Pit: Virgin Galactic Stock Plunges Again as Company Plans to Issue Up to $500 Million in Debt

Credit: Google Finance

Parabolic Arc Context Backgrounder

  • $425 million in senior notes due in 2027; initial purchasers have option to buy up to $75 million in notes
  • First issuing of debt; company previously raised money by issuing hundreds of millions in additional stock after going public on Oct. 28, 2019
  • Announcement came as sister company, Virgin Orbit, prepared for a satellite launch later today
  • Stock price well below its NYSE debut price of $12.79 and peak of $62.80
  • Company has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since going public as schedule delays lengthened
  • Space tourism revenue flights not expected until third quarter 2022
  • Plan before going public was to begin tourism flights in June 2020
  • Founder Richard Branson has extracted about $1.4 billion from initial deal to go public and subsequent sales of stock
  • Branson has reduced ownership stake from more than 50 percent in October 2019 to 11.9 percent today

Virgin Galactic’s press release announcing the plan to issue debt follows.

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Roscosmos Looks Back at Successful Launch Year

Soyuz rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 27, 2021. (Credit: Arianespace)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — For the third year in a row, Roscosmos ensured trouble-free launches of spacecraft from the Baikonur, Plesetsk and Vostochny cosmodromes. Russia has achieved the best indicators of accident-free launches in 5 years (about 97 percent) among the leading space powers (Russia, USA, China).

As of the end of 2021, 25 launches of space rockets were carried out, including 14 launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome, 5 launches from Vostochny, 5 from Plesetsk and 1 from the Guiana Space Center.

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Soyuz MS-20 Crew Shares Highlights of ISS Flight

Soyuz MS-20 crew members Alexander Misurkin, Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano at a post-flight news conference. (Credit: CPK/Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On Monday, December 20, 2021, the crew of the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft returned to Earth from a space expedition. For the Hero of Russia, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, she was the third in a row and the shortest – only twelve days. The crew commander was tasked with delivering to the ISS and then returning to Earth the Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant Yozo Hirano, who made space travel as tourists.

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Japanese Billionaire Lands After 12 Days in Space

Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft descends under a parachute. (Credit: Roscosmos)

VIENNA, Va. (Space Adventures PR) — Space Adventures, Inc., the world’s leading space experiences company, announced the Russian Soyuz MS-20 carrying Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) and his production assistant, Yozo Hirano, successfully landed in Kazakhstan following their spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS). The duo’s journey lasted a total of 12 days under the command of Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Virgin Galactic Alleging Securities Fraud

Michael Colglazier (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A class action lawsuit was filed in New York on Dec. 7 alleging securities fraud by Virgin Galactic, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in October 2019 after merging with Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH).

Named in the lawsuit are Virgin Galactic Holdings, CEO Michael Colglazier, former CEO George Whitesides, former current chief financial officer Doug Ahrens, and former chief financial officer Jon Compagna.

The lawsuit was filed amid years-long delays in the start of commercial human suborbital flights that have caused a sharp decline in the value of the stock. Virgin Galactic began trading on the New York Stock Exchange at an opening price of $12.34 on Oct. 28, 2019. The stock is now trading at $14.46 having previously soared to a high of $62.80.

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ABC News Live Documents “Good Morning America” Co-anchor Michael Strahan’s Journey to Space in Primetime Special

New Shepard touches down after a space tourism flight on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

‘Michael Strahan’s Liftoff to Space,’ Produced By ABC News Studios, Streams Saturday, Dec. 11 (8:00-8:30 p.m. EST) on ABC News Live and Will Be Available on Hulu Later That Evening

NEW YORK (ABC News PR) — Streaming news channel ABC News Live announced today it will document “Good Morning America” co-anchor Michael Strahan’s journey to space as a crew member on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket in a primetime special. ABC News Studios will produce Michael Strahan’s Liftoff to Space that will relive the excitement of Strahan’s flight to space, return to earth and the preparation leading up to the launch. The special will stream Saturday, Dec. 11 (8:00-8:30 p.m. EST) on ABC News Live and later that evening on Hulu.

When Strahan shared the news on “GMA” that he would be a crew member on the flight, he said, “I want to go to space. I think being there at the first launch, it really was mind-blowing.” A main factor in his desire to travel on Blue Origin, explained Strahan, is the opportunity to be a part of space exploration, which has produced discoveries in technology, science and innovations like the satellites that power cellphones. “I believe that this is the way of being innovative, creative, pioneers in aviation, now space travel. And it’s going to take a while but I do believe that it will bring a lot of technological breakthroughs and also innovations to us here on Earth, and I just want to be a part of it.”

For more information, follow ABC News PR on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Blue Origin Safely Completes Third Human Spaceflight

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

The NS-19 mission marks the sixth flight of the year for the program

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today successfully completed the third human spaceflight – the first with six astronauts on board. The astronaut manifest included, Laura Shepard Churchley, Michael Strahan, Evan Dick, Dylan Taylor, Cameron Bess, and Lane Bess.

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FAA Decides Bezos, Branson and Shatner Are Astronauts After All

  • Everyone who exceeds 50 miles by Dec. 31 will receive commercial astronaut wing even if they were just passengers
  • Nobody after that will even if they pilot a ship
  • Agency reverses earlier decision to award wings only to those essential to flight operations/success
  • FAA says this is what was intended all along

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) – With the advent of the commercial space tourism era, starting in 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will now recognize individuals who reach space on its website instead of issuing Commercial Space Astronaut Wings. Any individual who is on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch and reaches 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth will be listed on the site. 

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Virgin Galactic Reports Q3 Net Loss of $48 Million

A view from inside the cockpit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
  • Commercial Service on Track for Q4 2022
  • Strong Ticket Sales at Updated Pricing of $450,000 per Seat
  • Demonstrates Value of Differentiated Community Experience
  • Commenced Fleet Enhancement Program to Increase Flight Rate and Extend Vehicle Service Life Ahead of Commercial Launch

LAS CRUCES, N.M., November 8, 2021 (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or the “Company”) today announced its financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2021.

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Space, Sustainable Tourism Can Work and Grow Together, says Purdue Tourism Expert

Jonathon Day (Credit: Purdue University)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue University PR) — As space enthusiasts line up to purchase suborbital and orbital flights, communities that want to be known as space tourism hubs have a great opportunity to plan for future developments on Earth.

Jonathon Day, an associate professor who specializes in sustainable tourism in Purdue University’s White Lodging-J.W. Marriott Jr., School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the College of Health and Human Sciences, says community leaders and business owners should look at what makes their communities special as they prepare for tourists.  

“Space tourism is offering these communities and regions an opportunity for economic development,” Day says. “We know these activities are going to increase the number of visitors to these destinations. Now would be a great time for the community leaders to take a deeper look at things they will need for the future.”

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Blue Origin Announces Two Passengers for Oct. 12; William Shatner Not Mentioned

Chris Boshuizen (left) and Glen de Vries (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin announced New Shepard’s 18th mission, NS-18, will lift off on Tuesday, October 12, carrying four astronauts to space and back, including Dr. Chris Boshuizen, a former NASA engineer and co-founder of Planet Labs, and Glen de Vries, Vice-Chair, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Dassault Systèmes and co-founder, Medidata. The two other astronauts will be announced in the coming days.

[Editor’s Note: TMZ.com reported Star Trek actor William Shatner will be aboard the upcoming flight. There’s been no confirmation of that report.]

Live launch coverage begins on BlueOrigin.com at T-60 minutes. Liftoff is currently targeted for 8:30 am CDT/ 13:30 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas. 

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Virgin Galactic’s Next Challenge: The Flight of the Vested?

Richard Branson and other passengers float around in weightlessness. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

This was supposed to be the Summer of Virgin Galactic. The company would complete the three remaining suborbital flight tests of SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, the second one with Richard Branson aboard. The company’s newest space tourism vehicle, SpaceShipIII, would begin its flight tests.

Once VSS Unity tests were complete, engineers would spend four months making a series of repairs and upgrades to the spacecraft and its WhiteKnightTwo mothership, VMS Eve. And then in early 2022, the company would use both spaceships to fly tourists on suborbital joy rides that were originally projected to begin 15 years earlier in 2007.

Sounds easy enough, right? It wasn’t. The Summer of Virgin Galactic went about as well as the Summer of George on Seinfeld. If best laid plans of mice, men and Costanzas often go awry, Virgin Galactic’s schedules are guaranteed to move significantly to the right. Years to the right.

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