Tag: SpaceShipTwo

How Richard Branson Has Been Funding Virgin Galactic

22 Comments
Sir Richard Branson speaks to a group of future astronauts at the FAITH Hangar of Virgin Galactic in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013 in Mojave, CA. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Sir Richard Branson speaks to a group of future astronauts at the FAITH Hangar of Virgin Galactic in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013 in Mojave, CA. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

For anyone wondering how the Virgin Group has been funding Virgin Galactic over the past decade, the Financial Times had an excellent overview back in early November just after SpaceShipTwo crashed.

It seems that Virgin Galactic had sucked in up to $600 million in investment by that point, with nearly two-thirds of it from Abu Dhabi. The Virgin Group also has been funding the rest using profits from other parts of Sir Richard Branson’s empire.

For Galactic’s business model, Virgin followed a well-worn route. The group’s favoured start-up model relies on private investment for financing, with generally a co-investor sharing equity, and therefore the financial risk, often with a large amount of debt to the parent company loaded on to the balance sheet, a model it has followed at most of its businesses since the group’s brief but painful experience as a London-listed company in the 1980s.
Continue reading ‘How Richard Branson Has Been Funding Virgin Galactic’

Virgin Galactic Now On its Own

24 Comments
Takeoff! (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Takeoff! (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The Los Angeles Times has a story on how Virgin Galactic is proceeding after the loss of SpaceShipTwo. The company is mostly on its own, no longer relying upon Scaled Composites to build SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwos and to run the flight test program.

Virgin Galactic’s fully owned subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, is now building the second SpaceShipTwo on its own. Virgin will conduct the flight test program for the vehicle without Scaled. Previously, flight test was led by Scaled with increased participation from Virgin personnel as the program went further.

Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Now On its Own’

Virgin Galactic Hires New Pilot

Comments
Sir Richard Branson "high tens" with SpaceShip2 test pilot Mark Stuckey following the successful first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo. At left is Mark Stuckey's wife Cheryl and at right is Virgin Galactic President and CEO George Whitesides..  The spacecraft was dropped rom its "mothership", WhiteKnight2 over the Mojave, CA area, April 29, 2013 at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Sir Richard Branson “high tens” with SpaceShip2 test pilot Mark Stuckey following the successful first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo. At left is Mark Stuckey’s wife Cheryl and at right is Virgin Galactic President and CEO George Whitesides.. The spacecraft was dropped rom its “mothership”, WhiteKnight2 over the Mojave, CA area, April 29, 2013 at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

MOJAVE, Calif. – January 23, 2015 – Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky as pilot.

Stucky will join Virgin Galactic’s commercial flight team responsible for flying WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo: Chief Pilot Dave Mackay and pilots Frederick ‘CJ’ Sturckow, Michael ‘Sooch’ Masucci, and Todd ‘Leif’ Ericson, who is also Virgin Galactic’s Safety and Testing Vice President. His first day with Virgin Galactic is February 2.

Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Hires New Pilot’

2014 in Review: Mojave’s Difficult Year

Comment
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

“2014 will be a fun ride. We welcome you to get onboard, strap in and hold on!”

Stu Witt

CEO & General Manager
Mojave Air and Space Port
Jan. 9, 2014

Stu Witt had a lot of reasons to be optimistic as 2014 began. The Mojave spaceport was on a roll. On Jan. 10, Scaled Composites conducted the third powered flight of SpaceShipTwo in less than 9 months. XCOR was making steady progress on the Lynx and a new hydrogen engine for ULA, Stratolaunch was busy building the world’s largest aircraft, and other tenants such as Masten and Firestar had successes over the past year.

Continue reading ‘2014 in Review: Mojave’s Difficult Year’

Seattle, Mojave Duel to be Silicon Valley of Space

Comments
Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

With last week’s visit of Elon Musk and his announcement of a new facility to design and build a 4,000-satellite constellation, Seattle Weekly is reviving the region’s claim to be the “Silicon Valley of space.”

That might be a bit of a surprise to Silicon Valley, the home of some cool space start-ups and the source (via Google) of a lot of Musk’s satellite money.

The moniker is also probably surprising to some folks in Mojave, which also has staked its claim to that title from time to time. Valley Public Radio talks to Mojave Air and Space Port CEO/General Manager Stu Witt and Leonard David of Space.com about Mojave, commercial space and the loss of SpaceShipTwo.

Is Kern County The Next Frontier For Aerospace Innovation?

It’s a bit of a disappointing discussion. Both Leonard and Stu appear more afraid of the government coming in with regulations than they are of Scaled continuing to kill people on this program. Ten years, four deaths and one wrecked spaceship later, and this program hasn’t come anywhere near space.

That’s not exactly a shining example of NewSpace competency. And shouldn’t that raise some basic questions about Scaled, its design and safety protocols, and Virgin Galactic’s rush to move forward?

And, as the FAA’s George Nield has pointed out, these guys aren’t exactly the Wright brothers. They’re not inventing a new mode of transportation from whole cloth. People have been flying into space for more than 50 years. There’s a lot of good, proven safety practices out there. Without some mandatory regulations, Nield fears that some irresponsible operator will ruin it for everyone in the industry.

That’s the argument, anyway. Whether you agree with it or not, it would have been nice if it had come up in the discussion. I guarantee you it will be a point of contention at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference next month.

Year in Review: A Look at Virgin Galactic Developments in 2014

Comments
WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Continuing our look back at 2014, we review progress at Virgin Galactic. While the loss of SpaceShipTwo on Oct. 31 understandably dominated the headlines, there were a number of other newsworthy developments at the company last year.

Continue reading ‘Year in Review: A Look at Virgin Galactic Developments in 2014′

New Virgin Galactic Video About Second SpaceShipTwo

Comments

Video Caption: An introduction to our second Spaceship, featuring interviews with key team members and behind the scenes shots of our Spaceship factory.

Stu Witt’s Annual New Year’s Message

Comments
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

New Year’s Greeting 2015
January 12, 2015

Happy New Year! Once again, it is my pleasure to provide an update on our 2014 goal achievement and lay out our vision for 2015. This past year has been extremely busy at Mojave Air & Space Port. While we witnessed many successes we also came to grips with losing three members of our flight test family. In retrospect, regardless of how we view any success in 2014 the reality of the events of 24 and 31 October will live with us forever. As we move into 2015, we must constantly realize that the work we perform is essential for the continued mobility of the traveling world but the cost associated with our achievement is often high and deeply personal.

In February 2014, the AVBoT held their annual outlook conference in Mojave. This was a first and noteworthy event for us. The event was highlighted by a charged and emotional speech by Captain Mark Kelly USN/ NASA Astronaut. We hosted nearly 1200 guests to our event center and took full advantage to show off our economic growth and achievement.

Continue reading ‘Stu Witt’s Annual New Year’s Message’

2014: The Year We Discovered Space is Hard (Part III)

32 Comments
The spot where SpaceShipTwo's cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The spot where SpaceShipTwo’s cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The Coming Reckoning for NewSpace

After the Challenger accident in 1986, the nation went through the five stages of grief. First there was denial that such a tragedy could occur. That was followed by depression over the loss of seven brave Americans.

And there was anger. A lot of anger. As reporters and the Rogers Commission began to investigate the accident, it emerged that the astronauts’ deaths could have been prevented. The investigations also exposed serious flaws in the space shuttle and deep dysfunction within NASA, an agency renowned for its technical competence. The picture that emerged was not pretty.

Continue reading ‘2014: The Year We Discovered Space is Hard (Part III)’

The Year in Commercial Space 2014 (Part II)

Comment
Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Second of 2 Stories

It was a busy year for a number of commercial space companies. While most of them made considerable progress, the news wasn’t all good.

A Dream Deferred

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) had a pretty rough year, losing out on two major contracts and laying off more than 100 employees.

On a Friday in May, just as everyone was preparing for the long Memorial Day weekend, Virgin Galactic announced it was dumping the hybrid rubber motor SNC developed for SpaceShipTwo in favor of a hybrid nylon one produced by Scaled Composites.

Continue reading ‘The Year in Commercial Space 2014 (Part II)’