Branson’s Autobiography Part II: A Bad Day at Koehn Lake

SpaceShipTwo breaks up after the premature deployment of its feather system. (Credit: MARS Scientific/NTSB)

Part 2 of 3

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography
Richard Branson
Oct. 10, 2017
482 pages

In his new book, Richard Branson recounts that on the morning of Oct. 31, 2014, he was on his private Caribbean island in a state of “schoolboy excitement.” The reason? Three time zones away in California’s Mojave Desert, Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites were conducting the longest and most ambitious flight test of the SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle.


A Halloween Nightmare in Mojave

It was raining in the desert. It was coming down in buckets.

A cold, hard rain was slamming against the windows of the house. The first real rain since….I couldn’t even remember. That’s how rare rain is out here. Months and months go by with little or no rainfall.


Mojave Journal: Weather Weather Everywhere

Stormy weather (Credit: Douglas Messier)
Stormy winter weather (Credit: Douglas Messier)

There’s an old saying in Mojave, which I actually made up last year, that we don’t really have weather out here, just temperatures and wind velocities. That’s largely true. Most days look pretty much like all the other days: sunny and clear with blue skies as far as the eye can see. Not for nothing did the High Desert become the premiere location for testing high-performance aircraft and rocket planes.