Disgraced aabar Investments CEO Sentenced to Prison

Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic pilots, staffers and investors. To his right is Mohamed Badawy Al Husseiny, CEO of Aabar, which made a $280 million in Virgin Galactic. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

You might call him the crook that fell to Earth.

Ten years ago, Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny was sitting next to Sir Richard Branson at the Oshkosh air show signing a deal on behalf of Abu Dhabi to invest $280 million in the British billionaire’s space tourism venture, Virgin Galactic.

The wealthy CEO of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, aabar investments, likely had dreams of gazing down on Earth while floating in space aboard Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo.

Today, Al-Husseiny is sitting in a jail cell serving a 10-year sentence for financial crimes. He also has been implicated in one of the largest financial frauds in history involving the theft of more than $4 billion.

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DiCaprio Plans TV Reboot of The Right Stuff

Mercury astronauts

Leonardo DiCaprio is teaming with National Geographic for a reboot of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff.

The cabler is teaming with the actor’s Appian Way Productions banner and Warner Horizon Scripted Television to develop a scripted adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s best-seller The Right Stuff, with the goal of having a multiple-season drama series.

Will Staples will pen the script and executive produce the project that is set in 1958 and explores astronauts and their families as they move from the Mojave Desert to the edges of space, tracking their instant celebrity and, at some point in subsequent seasons, the moon landing.

DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson of Appian Way will exec produce alongside Staples and Michael Hampton, who shepherded the drama. The potential series will use Wolfe’s book as a starting point.

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Has a Space Trip With King of the World Leo DiCaprio Been Overbooked?

"I'm king of space!"
“I’m king of space!”

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio sure knows how to sell tickets — both on Earth and in space. But, has Virgin Galactic overbooked his flight?

A trip on a Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle with the superstar actor was auctioned off for 700,000 euros ($954,000) recently at the annual amfAR auction near Cannes, France. The charity benefits AIDS research.

Space.com reports three other seats on the flight have already been auctioned off on the scheduled 2015 flight for a combined $3.8 million. Richard Branson’s business-jet style space tourism vehicle is designed to carry two pilots and six passengers.

However, reports have come into Parabolic Arc indicating that the passenger load will be reduced to four due to modifications that have added weight to SpaceShipTwo. Reportedly, the reduction is still required even though Virgin Galactic has switched to a more powerful plastic engine from a rubber one.

This raises the question of whether the DiCaprio flight has been overbooked. Imagine spending nearly a million dollars on a flight and getting bumped! Virgin Galactic will have offer more than a $300 toward a future flight and a hotel voucher for something like that.











Op Ed: Branson’s Environmental Claims for SpaceShipTwo False

 Sir Richard Branson and daughter, Holly, look through the window of a SpaceShipTwo shell. (Photo credit: Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic)
Sir Richard Branson and daughter, Holly, look through the window of a SpaceShipTwo shell. (Photo credit: Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic)

Sir Richard Branson’s claims over the years about the environmentally friendly nature of his SpaceShipTwo suborbital space tourism vehicle have always been difficult to properly evaluate. The Virgin Galactic and Carbon War Room founder has never submitted the methodology, assumptions and calculations used to arrive at those conclusions to anything remotely resembling peer review — either by experts or the public at large.

The result was a series of claims designed to burnish Branson’s eco-warrior reputation that were based on minimal evidence and generated considerable skepticism. The doubts were crystallized once SpaceShipTwo finally started flying under power in the skies over the Mojave Desert last April.

SpaceShipTwo in powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
SpaceShipTwo in powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

One wag I know is not alone in dubbing the ship’s hybrid nitrous oxide-rubber engine a “flying tire fire.”  (The ship doesn’t literally burn tire rubber, but the effects are similar.)

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Leonardo DiCaprio’s SpaceShipTwo Flight Raises $3.8 Million for AIDS Research

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Vasily Klyukin, a 37-year-old Russian real estate mogul who lives in Monaco, will spend $1.5 million to take a flight into space alongside “Titanic” star Leonardo DiCaprio aboard Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo.

“I want to be a bit daring,” Klyukin told Reuters. “I will have to give up smoking now for sure!”

Klyukin won the trip at the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS charity dinner during the Cannes Film Festival. Two more seats on the same flight were auctioned off for an additional $2.3 million.

Seats on Virgin Galactic flights now cost $250,000 apiece.