I’ve been doing a bit of research into Virgin Galactic over the last few days. I’ve come to a realization that the company’s ticket sales and cancellation numbers don’t add up in the wake of SpaceShipTwo’s crash.
Prior to the crash, Richard Branson was claiming the company had 800 ticket holders, or close to that number. He reiterated the figure three days after the crash in an interview on “CBS This Morning”. Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic’s Sales Numbers Don’t Add Up’
During the FAA’s recent Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, there was a lot of talk about extending the learning period and regulatory “moratorium” on commercial human spaceflight that expires on Sept. 30.
Having failed to fly into space in the decade since the restrictions were put into place, industry naturally wants yet another extension so they can continue learning their lessons. In the meantime, voluntary standards will suffice. The FAA is of another mind, wanting to have the authority to write a basic set of safety standards and to react quickly to situations as they develop.
The B Team, a group of high-level business leaders co-founded by Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson that’s committed “People Planet Profit”, has issued a call for “world leaders to commit to a global goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 – and urged business leaders to match this ambition by committing to bold long-term targets.”
In a Feb. 5 press release, Sir Richard said, “Taking bold action on climate change simply makes good business sense. It’s also the right thing to do for people and the planet. Setting a net-zero GHG emissions target by 2050 will drive innovation, grow jobs, build prosperity and secure a better world for what will soon be 9 billion people. Why would we wait any longer to do that? It’s time for all of us to join forces and drive the transition to a thriving net-zero GHG emissions economy by 2050.”
Bold words. But, I have to wonder what would happen to Virgin Galactic if Branson actually took action on them.
By Douglas Messier
A battle is brewing over whether to extend the learning period for the commercial spaceflight industry, with Congress needing to make a decision before October on when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be allowed to regulate an industry still struggling to get off the ground.
On one side are FAA officials, who believe they can begin to craft basic safety regulations based on more than 50 years of human spaceflight experience. Industry figures dispute this, saying they still don’t have enough experience with their varied vehicles to begin the process.
Oh God! As if Spaceport America needed more bad publicity.
Truth or Consequences has voted to rent out a large part of its senior citizens center for a welcome center where tourists will gather to be bused to Spaceport America.
So, let me see if I’ve got this straight:
New Mexico taxpayers spend nearly a quarter billion dollars on a spaceport built for billionaire Richard Branson so he can fly his fellow billionaires and millionaire on space joy rides with the promise of vast economic benefits to the local population. Branson fails to deliver on any of it despite 10 years of effort, leaving taxpayers subsidizing a largely empty spaceport used for occasional sounding rocket launches. And now senior citizens living on fixed incomes are being pushed aside to make way for tourists to go visit a spaceport with no spacecraft.
This is not good. The crown jewel of NewSpace is becoming a cosmic embarrassment.
An excellent report from Mojave by KGET, with an overview of the testing going on there and the first ever look inside the Stratolaunch hangar.
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’
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.
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.