Virgin Galactic Sees Departure of Chief Legal Officer & Director of Safety as Company Fights Lawsuits

Michelle Kley (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic has seen the departures of its director of safety and chief legal officer over the past month.

Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel Michelle Kley is leaving Virgin Galactic as of July 19 after two years and seven months with the company. She will become chief legal officer at Volta, a company that runs an electric vehicle charging network.

Her departure comes as Virgin Galactic battles lawsuits from unhappy shareholders who claim to have lost money since the company went public more than 2.5 years ago.

Kley joined Virgin Galactic as executive vice president, chief legal officer, general counsel and secretary in December 2019. She previously served as senior vice president, chief legal officer, general counsel and secretary at Maxar Technologies from July 2016 to March 2019.

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Panel Urges Government, Industry Action to Improve Battered Space Supply Chain

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The question of how to strengthen the U.S. space industry’s weakened supply chain, which has been battered over the past two years by the global COVID-19 pandemic, was the subject of a panel discussion at the Space Tech Expo last week. The answers boiled down to the Pentagon adopting an agile approach to developing and acquiring technology, and reversing a decades-old trend by industry of outsourcing manufacturing abroad.

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Terran Orbital Announces a Record $170+ Million in New Contracts and Awards Since September 30, 2021

BOCA RATON, Fla., February 15, 2022 (Terran Orbital PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (“Terran Orbital”), a leading vertically integrated provider of end-to-end satellite solutions, announced  contracts and awards totaling over $170 million since September 30, 2021. This includes multiple agreements and awards from several government and commercial customers.

“Terran Orbital is fortunate to enjoy unique relationships with leaders in the defense, civil, and commercial sectors,” said Marc Bell, Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Terran Orbital. “Our team continues to focus on delivering the highest quality solutions at a compelling price. We are honored by the trust and partnership of our customers and look forward to delivering the capabilities they need.”

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Virgin Orbit Stock Sinks in NASDAQ Debut

Credit: Google Finance

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Orbit’s debut on the NASDAQ stock exchange wasn’t exactly stellar.

The stock opened at $9.18 when trading began on Thursday, Dec. 30. It reached a low of $8.04 when trading ended the following day befrore rising to $8.30 in after-hours trading.

Richard Branson’s launch company went public after merging with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that was already traded on NASDAQ. The merger allowed Virgin Orbit to go public on the exchange under its own name.

NextGen stock was trading at $9.68 when the merger deal was announced on Aug. 23.

A SPAC is a “blank check company” that is essentially an investment vehicle that is traded on the stock exchange. SPACs typically have two years to find a private company with which to merge and take public. If they don’t, then investors can received their money back. Investors also have the option to sell their shares back to the company if they don’t like the deal, which is what happened with the NextGen-Virgin Orbit merger.

As a result, Virgin Orbit will received only $228 million of the $483 million in growth capital it had expected when the deal was announced in August. The Virgin Group and other investors had to put more money into the merger to meet the $100 million cash requirement for the deal.

Merger Leaves Virgin Orbit with Less Than Half of Funding Originally Planned

Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a clear sign of investor skepticism, Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will receive only about $228 million of the $483 million in growth capital it expected after merging with the NextGen Acquisition II special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

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Virgin Orbit Delays Next Launch Until After Merger Vote

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Orbit has delayed its next satellite launch, originally set for Wednesday, Dec. 22, to next month. The launch will come after shareholders of NextGen Acquisition Corp. II vote on Dec. 28 on whether to merge with Richard Branson’s launch services provider.

The merger with the special purpose acquisition company would allow Virgin Orbit to go public on Nasdaq under its own name. The deal will provide $483 million in capital to allow the company to grow.

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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Virgin Galactic Alleging Securities Fraud

Michael Colglazier (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A class action lawsuit was filed in New York on Dec. 7 alleging securities fraud by Virgin Galactic, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in October 2019 after merging with Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH).

Named in the lawsuit are Virgin Galactic Holdings, CEO Michael Colglazier, former CEO George Whitesides, former current chief financial officer Doug Ahrens, and former chief financial officer Jon Compagna.

The lawsuit was filed amid years-long delays in the start of commercial human suborbital flights that have caused a sharp decline in the value of the stock. Virgin Galactic began trading on the New York Stock Exchange at an opening price of $12.34 on Oct. 28, 2019. The stock is now trading at $14.46 having previously soared to a high of $62.80.

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Redwire Shares Surge on First Day of Trading on NYSE

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Shares of space infrastructure and manufacturing conglomerate Redwire (RDW) surged by 16.57 percent on Friday during the company’s first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock price rose by $1.74 to $12.24.

The debut came after shareholders of Genesis Park Acquisition Corp. overwhelmingly backed a merger with Redwire on Wednesday. Genesis Park was a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that was already traded on NYSE that was established by investors with the goal of finding a company with which to merge and take public.

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Genesis Park Acquisition Corp. and Redwire Announce Shareholder Approval of the Business Combination

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. and HOUSTON, Sept. 1, 2021 (Genesis Park PR) — Genesis Park Acquisition Corp. (“GPAC”) (NYSE: GNPK), a U.S. publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company, and Redwire, LLC (“Redwire” or the “Company”), a leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy, announced that at GPAC’s extraordinary general meeting held today (the “Extraordinary General Meeting”), GPAC’s shareholders voted to approve the previously announced proposed business combination between GPAC and Redwire (the “Business Combination”), as well as all other proposals related to the Business Combination. Approximately 97% of the votes cast at the meeting, representing approximately 73% of GPAC’s outstanding shares as of the record date, voted to approve the Business Combination.

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SEC Announces Charges Against Momentus, Stable Road and Their CEOs for Misleading Claims in SPAC Merger

Mikhail Kokorich

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 13, 2021 (SEC PR) — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against special purpose acquisition corporation Stable Road Acquisition Company, its sponsor SRC-NI, its CEO Brian Kabot, the SPAC’s proposed merger target Momentus Inc., and Momentus’s founder and former CEO Mikhail Kokorich for misleading claims about Momentus’s technology and about national security risks associated with Kokorich. The SEC’s litigation is proceeding against Kokorich, against whom the SEC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. All other parties are settling with the SEC, with terms including total penalties of more than $8 million, tailored investor protection undertakings, and the SPAC sponsor’s forfeiture of founder’s shares it stands to receive if the merger, currently scheduled for August 2021, is approved.

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Breaking Down Virgin Galactic’s Latest Flight Test

Take me out to the black,
Tell them I ain’t comin’ back.
Burn the land and boil the sea,
You can’t take the sky from me….

— “The Ballad of Serenity,” Sonny Rhodes

“After so many years and so much hard work, New Mexico has finally reached the stars.”

— New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

By now, you’ve probably read the rhetoric flourishes in Virgin Galactic’s press release about the company’s first suborbital flight test in more than two years that was conducted on Saturday. Suffice to say, if the stars were located at the altitude that SpaceShipTwo actually reached (55.45 miles/89.2 km), they would take the sky away at the same time they burned the land and boiled the seas. Being suborbital, VSS Unity wouldn’t have helped anyone escape the inferno.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. So, let’s just put doomsday out of our minds. It’s time to break down what the flight test accomplished, what comes next, and why 27 months passed between powered flights. And what about Jeff Bezos?

Ready? Let’s go!

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Book: Virgin Galactic’s President Moses Believed Company’s Flight Projections were a “Pipe Dream”

Richard Branson’s space tourism company used similar numbers to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. Were investors duped?
Michael Moses

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Nicholas Schmidle’s book about Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo is coming out on Tuesday. In an essay he wrote for The New York Times, he recounted how Virgin Galactic President Michael Moses didn’t believe the company’s own flight projections when they were presented to him by its then-chief financial officer.

At one point, I was leaked a cache of internal documents. Some revealed the depth of Virgin Galactic’s oftentimes shaky grip on reality.

In 2013, Mike Moses, at the time Virgin Galactic’s senior vice president for operations, was sent an email containing a chart from Virgin Galactic’s chief financial officer at the time, Ken Sunshine. The chart showed a radical uptick in flight operations, projecting 75 flights in 2015, 194 in 2016, 229 in 2017 and 264 in 2018. “No chance in hell,” replied Mr. Moses, who is Beth’s husband. “These numbers are a pipe dream.” (Mr. Moses, through a representative, declined to comment on those emails.)

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Second Space SPAC Succeeds: Deal to Take AST & Science Public Approved by New Providence Shareholders

AUSTIN, Texas (New Providence Acquisition Corp.)–New Providence Acquisition Corp. (“New Providence”) (NASDAQ: NPA, NPAUU and NPAWW) today announced that its stockholders approved all proposals related to the previously announced business combination (the “Business Combination”) with AST & Science, LLC at a special meeting of stockholders held today. A Form 8-K disclosing the full voting results is expected to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The closing of the Business Combination is anticipated to occur on or about April 6, 2021. Following closing, the combined company will be known as AST SpaceMobile and its class A common stock and warrants will trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbols “ASTS” and “ASTSW”, respectively.

AST SpaceMobile expects to receive approximately $462 million in gross proceeds at the time of the Business Combination, which includes $230 million in expected gross proceeds from a private placement closing concurrently.

About AST SpaceMobile

AST SpaceMobile is building the first, and only, space-based cellular broadband network to operate directly with standard, unmodified mobile devices based on its extensive IP and patent portfolio. AST SpaceMobile’s team of engineers and space scientists are on a mission to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by today’s five billion mobile subscribers and finally bring broadband to the billions who remain unconnected. Follow AST SpaceMobile on Twitter @AST_SpaceMobile and LinkedIn, and for an overview on the SpaceMobile mission, view this video.

About New Providence Acquisition Corp.

New Providence Acquisition Corp. is a blank check company formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses. In September 2019, New Providence Acquisition Corp. consummated a $230 million initial public offering of 23 million units (reflecting the underwriters’ exercise of their over-allotment option in full), each unit consisting of one of the Company’s Class A ordinary shares and one-half warrant, each whole warrant enabling the holder thereof to purchase one Class A ordinary share at a price of $11.50 per share. New Providence’s securities are quoted on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbols NPA, NPAUU and NPAWW.

Wall Street Thinks Most SPACs are a Joke

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). (Credit Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Over at Fast Company, William D. Cohan says professional investors and financial analysts have a low opinion of the special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which are being used by Virgin Galactic and six other space companies to go public. (SPACs are an inside joke on Wall Street, and the joke is on you)

SPACs are investment vehicles that are already publicly traded on the stock exchange. Their goal is to acquire or merge with other companies, which then go public under their own names.

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Why Virgin Galactic Went SPAC

Richard Branson celebrates the first Virgin Galactic trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Credit Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the SmallSat Symposium last week, Richard Branson was asked why Virgin Galactic had gone public using a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

“I’m impatient. The SPAC gets through all of the rigmarole of public companies. Yes, I thought, that’s great, let’s do it,” he replied.

Branson was half right. A SPAC makes it a lot easier for a company to go public. But, impatience was probably not the main reason Virgin Galactic went SPAC.

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