Stucky Turns Blue: Joins Jeff Bezos’ Space Company After Departure From Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Mark Stucky, whom Virgin Galactic demoted as its director of flight test in May and fired two months later, has joined Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company, CNN reports.

Stucky said he will join Blue Origin’s “Advanced Development Programs” team, where he said in a statement to CNN that he will “do my best to contribute to [CEO Jeff Bezos’] amazing vision of humans not just having a continuous presence in space but truly becoming a space-faring species.”

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Virgin Galactic Delays Italian Flight Test; Start of Commercial Service Delayed to Q4 2022

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Credit Virgin Galactic)
  • Recent material testing returned new data that requires further analysis
  • Italian Air Force mission to follow enhancement period
  • Potential supplier component issue has been resolved
  • Commercial service expected to commence in Q4 2022

LAS CRUCES, NM (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic today announced that it will now begin its planned enhancement program for VMS Eve and VSS Unity and will conduct the Unity 23 test flight after this work is complete.

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A Teary-eyed William Shatner Describes Flying to Space for Real Aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard

Jeff Bezos pins Blue Origin astronaut wings on actor William Shatner. (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Visibly moved to tears, Star Trek actor William Shatner struggled to describe the experience of spaceflight to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after making a suborbital flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule.

“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine. I am so filled with emotion about what just happened. Just extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now, I don’t wanna lose it,” he said.

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Discovery and Science Channel to Broadcast William Shatner Flight To Space

William Shatner in his flight suit (Credit: Blue Origin)

Space Launch LIVE: Shatner in SpaceAiring Live
on Discovery and Science Channel, Wednesday, October 13, 8:30 -10:30 AM

Discovery and Science Channel brings viewers the highly-anticipated launch of Star Trek star William Shatner as he takes his first flight into space — at the age of 90, soon to be the oldest person to fly to space — on Blue Origin’s New Shepard, a cutting-edge suborbital rocket.

Scheduled for Wednesday after weather delays, the mission, known as NS-18, will launch from Blue Origin’s West Texas site. This will be the second-ever crewed spaceflight for Blue Origin after its inaugural crewed flight launched founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers on a 10-minute trip to space and back in July.

William Shatner Flight to Space Postponed to Wednesday

William Shatner with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights (left), and Audrey Powers (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Due to forecasted winds on Tuesday, October 12, Blue Origin’s mission operations team has made the decision to delay the launch of NS-18 and is now targeting Wednesday, October 13. Liftoff from Launch Site One is currently targeted for 8:30 am CDT / 13:30 UTC on Wednesday. 

As part of today’s Flight Readiness Review, the mission operations team confirmed the vehicle has  met all mission requirements and astronauts began their training today. Weather is the only gating factor for the launch window.

Passengers will include: Star Trek actor William Shatner; Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs; Glen de Vries, vice-chairman of Licenses & Healthcare, Dassault Systemes and co-founder of Mediadata; and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin VP of Mission and Flight Operations.

William Shatner to Boldly Go Where No Star Trek Captain Has Gone Before on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

William Shatner with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights (left), and Audrey Powers (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin announced actor William Shatner and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, will fly on board New Shepard NS-18. They will join crewmates Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries for the flight which lifts off from Launch Site One on October 12.  

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FAA Examination of Blue Origin Safety Issues Likely to be Very Narrow

New Shepard launch (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said it will examine safety issues about Blue Origin’s crewed suborbital New Shepard vehicle raised by a group of current and former employees in an open letter published on Thursday.

The announcement comes 11 days before four paying customers, one reported to be Star Trek star William Shatner, are scheduled to board New Shepard for a trip to space. While a federal safety review might sound reassuring to these ticket holders, what does it actually mean in practice?

Probably not much.

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FAA Closes Virgin Galactic Investigation, Clears SpaceShipTwo to Fly as Company’s Licensing & Compliance Officer Departs

Richard Branson and other passengers float around in weightlessness. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
  • SpaceShipTwo deviated from assigned airspace during July 11 flight test
  • FAA says Virgin Galactic failed to inform agency about deviation
  • Virgin Galactic’s licensing and compliance officer announces his departure from company

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Aviation Administration has closed an investigation into Virgin Galactic that resulted in the grounding of the company’s only suborbital SpaceShipTwo vehicle after the ship deviated from its assigned airspace during a July flight test with the company’s founder on board. The decision clears the way for another flight test planned for mid-October.

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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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Report: William Shatner Heading to Space on Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard

William Shatner (Credit: Jerry Avenaim)

TMZ.com reports that Capt. James Tiberius Kirk — actor William Shatner, anyway — will be heading to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital launch system.

We’re told Shatner will be on board in October for the 15-minute civilian flight — similar to the last launch. What we don’t know — BUT WHAT WOULD BE AWESOME — is if he wears his Capt. Kirk getup.

Our sources say the mission will be filmed for a documentary. We’re told Shatner’s people were talking to Discovery about the special, but that didn’t materialize … but our sources say Shatner and Co. have taken the project elsewhere and are in negotiations.

The 90-year old actor would be part of the second crewed flight by Jeff Bezos’ company. He would be the oldest person ever to travel to space.

In 2013, the Daily Mail reported that Richard Branson had offered Shatner a seat aboard Virgin Galactric’s suborbital SpaceShipTwo vehicle. Branson said the actor declined for an unusual reason.

‘He actually said he’s frightened of airline travel – which is slightly disillusioning. Captain Kirk is scared of flying,’ the Sun quoted Sir Richard as saying.

However, Shatner said he turned down Branson’s offer two years earlier because he didn’t want to pay the $200,000 cost.

I said, “Well, that’s not much, how much do you guarantee to come back?” And he didn’t have a price on that,’ quipped Shatner.

‘He wanted me to go up and pay for it and I said: “Hey, you pay me and I’ll go up. I’ll risk my life for a large sum of money.” But he didn’t pick me up on my offer.’

That wasn’t the first time he had indicated his reluctance to be blasted into the unknown.

Five years earlier Shatner said: ‘I’m interested in man’s march into the unknown but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash with the vomit hovering over me.’

Whatever the case, there is sure to be massive worldwide interest if Shatner does boldly go where no Star Trek regular cast member has gone before.

Virgin Galactic’s Former Flight Test Director Disputes Company’s Version of Off Course Flight with Richard Branson Aboard

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic’s recently fired flight test director claims that pilot error, not upper-level winds, resulted in the company’s SpaceShipTwo vehicle flying outside of its assigned airspace during a July 11 suborbital flight test that carried the company’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson. He suggested an independent investigation instead of a company-led one might be required to address the mishap.

Mark Stucky, who Virgin Galactic fired eight days after Branson’s flight, said his former employer put out an inaccurate statement about why VSS Unity flew unauthorized into Class A airspace for 1 minute 41 seconds during its descent. Class A airspace is primarily used by airlines, cargo operators and higher performance aircraft.

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