Virgin Galactic Delays Start of Commercial Service to 2023, Loses $93 Million

VSS Unity in flight on July 11, 2021. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic’s quarterly reports have fallen into a familiar pattern since the company went public 2.5 years ago. Optimistic talk about past and future progress is mixed in with a large net loss and another delay in the start of commercial service that was originally forecast to begin back in 2007.

Richard Branson’s space tourism company didn’t fail to disappoint on Thursday. The net loss for Q1 2022 was $93 million, which was higher than Q4 2021 net loss of $81 million but less than the $130 million loss for the first quarter of 2021.

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Former Virgin Group Senior Partner Joins Seraphim Space’s Investment Team

LONDON (Seraphim Space PR) — Seraphim Space Manager LLP, the manager of Seraphim Space Investment Trust plc, the world’s first listed Space Tech Fund, is delighted to announce that Patrick McCall, former Senior Partner of Virgin Group, will join the company.

Patrick joins Seraphim as a Venture Partner following a long and distinguished career in the space, communication and transport sector, He worked for two decades in the senior team driving the expansion of the Virgin Group and as the Chair of Virgin Orbit and Virgin Galactic. His achievements include financing the development of Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit, culminating in the flotations of both companies. He also played a key role in agreeing the launch agreement for Virgin Orbit from the Spaceport in Cornwall later this year.

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Richard Branson Gets His Astronaut Wings, Aims to Eliminate Asterisk* Next Time

Unity 22 crew: Michael Masucci, Colin Bennett, Richard Branson, Sirisha Bandla, David Mackay and Beth Moses at the 37th Space Symposium. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
  • Billionaire aims to go higher and faster next time
  • Virgin Galactic still can’t get SpaceShipTwo all the way up (to Karman line)
  • FAA throws in the towel on deciding who is and who isn’t an astronaut

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Earlier this month, Richard Branson and two Virgin Galactic employees received commercial astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity flight test they took part in last July. The trio was the last group to receive the wings — FAA ended the program last year — and the honors came with a pretty big asterisk.

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Report: UAE Working with Blue Origin to Establish Spaceport, Ends Agreement with Virgin Galactic

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

At the end of a long article about the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) efforts to develop a virbrant space industry, The National revealed this bit of news from Ibrahim Al Qasim, deputy director general of the UAE Space Agency.

Mr Al Qasim revealed to The National that the agreement that was signed in 2019 with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to bring space tourism flights to Al Ain Airport is no longer in effect, without explaining further.

Instead, the country is now working with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to set up spaceports.

He said discussions with the company, which has already flown 20 people on its suborbital flights, are under way.

Any agreement to fly Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle would be dependent upon a technology safeguards agreement between the UAE and the United States. An agreement with New Zealand allows Rocket Lab to launch Electron rockets from the company’s spaceport on Mahia Peninsula. Brazil has signed an agreement that will allow U.S. companies to launch from the Alcantara Space Center.

The UAE state of Abu Dhabi has been a major investor in Virgin Galactic, which plans to fly suborbital tourism flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. In 2009, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Aabar Investments put in $280 million for a 31.7 percent share of Richard Branson’s space company. Aabar later invested an additional $100 million for a 38.7 percent share of Virgin Galactic.

The additional $100 million investment was intended to help finance the development of a small satellite booster that would be air launched from WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft when it wasn’t used for SpaceShipTwo suborbital flights. A new company, Virgin Orbit, split off from Virgin Galactic. The company dumped plans to use WhiteKnightTwo; instead, it uses a larger booster, LauncherOne, that is dropped from a modified Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl.

Virgin Galactic Appoints Pilot Kelly Latimer to Director of Flight Test

Kelly Latimer

TUSTIN, Calif. (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (the “Company” or “Virgin Galactic”), an aerospace and space travel company, today announced that veteran pilot and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kelly Latimer has been promoted to Director of Flight Test.

Latimer joined Virgin Galactic in 2015 as its first female test pilot. She currently serves as a pilot for the mothership, VMS Eve, and was pilot in command for the Unity 21 mission and second in command for the historic Unity 22 mission. She will continue to serve as a Virgin Galactic pilot and will fly the Company’s spaceships on future test and commercial missions.

In her new role, Latimer will oversee the entirety of the Company’s flight test program including design, planning, execution, and post-flight analysis. This includes leading the flight test engineering team and managing mission control engineers who gather and analyze flight data to validate the safety and performance of the spaceflight system. Latimer will supervise the completion of the flight test program for Virgin Galactic’s current fleet, which is scheduled to resume later this year, and will work in parallel on the development of the Company’s new motherships and Delta class spaceships.

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New Mexico Seeks to Attract Virgin Galactic’s Manufacturing Facility to Spaceport America

A majority of Virgin Galactic’s future Astronauts gather with Sir Richard Branson (center) for a group photo at Virgin Galactic FAITH hangar in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013. Behind the group is the WhiteKnightTwo mated with SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Updated on March 5 at 8:34 a.m. PST with additional information about space companies located in the Los Angeles area and the benefits of industry clusters to employers and employees.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The state of New Mexico has proposed that Virgin Galactic establish a production facility at Spaceport America, which is where the company plans to begin flying tourists on suborbital space rides later this year. KRQE TV reports:

The New Mexico Economic Development Department says they have a proposal to bring Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing to the Spaceport. Right now, the manufacturing location is in the Mojave desert. Spaceport America has five permanent tenants that are conducting a variety of experiments; including one company that uses laser technology to help land on the moon.

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Richard Branson & Chamath Palihapitiya Sued Over Alleged Insider Trading of Virgin Galactic Stock

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

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and former chairman Chamath Palihapitiya are facing a shareholder lawsuit claiming they profited from selling shares while the stock was artificially inflated and known flaws in the company’s space tourism vehicles were hidden. Yahoo News reports:

The investor lawsuit, filed February 21 by Virgin Galactic shareholder Thomas Spiteri, seeks damages from the space travel company’s directors and others in management.

Palihapitiya took advantage of his role as company chairman to sell 10 million shares for $315 million on “inside information” before he abruptly left his role last month, the derivative action alleges.

Virgin Galactic founder Branson sold 16 million shares for about $458 million while the stock was “artificially inflated,” the complaint said.

Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia, a blank check company that was already traded on the New York Stock Exchange, took Virgin Galactic through a merger in October 2019. He served as Virgin Galactic’s chairman before abruptly resigning on Feb. 18, four days before the company’s quarterly earnings call.

Buy a Land Rover, Win a Trip to Space

A Land Rover pulls SpaceShipTwo VSS Imagine. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

– Land Rover & Virgin Galactic Adventure of a Lifetime Sweepstakes features a Virgin Galactic Space Flight grand prize1
– Other prizes include Land Rover Experiences, Land Rover and Virgin Galactic merchandise, and more
– Exclusive Sweepstakes is open to new and current Land Rover vehicle owners residing in the U.S.1, with entries accepted through June 20, 2022

MAHWAH, N.J., February 28, 2022 (Land Rover PR) – Land Rover, in partnership with Virgin Galactic today announced the launch of the Land Rover & Virgin Galactic Adventure of a Lifetime Sweepstakes. Land Rover vehicle owners residing in the U.S.1 will have the chance to win the ultimate grand prize of a seat on a Virgin Galactic space flight. The sweepstakes invites new and current Land Rover vehicle owners residing in the U.S.1 to engage with family and friends to increase their chances to win the grand prize – a seat on a Virgin Galactic space flight – or a number of other prizes, including Land Rover Experiences, Land Rover and Virgin Galactic merchandise, and more.

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Galactic Unite Black Leaders in Aerospace Scholarship and Training Program First Cohort Announced

Credit: Virgin Galactic

LAS CRUCES, NM (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic today announced the first students to be awarded scholarships in the Galactic Unite Black Leaders in Aerospace Scholarship and Training (BLAST) program.

BLAST is a scholarship, mentoring and fellowship program for college Sophomore through to Senior year Black scholars pursuing STEM education with a focus on aerospace in the U.S.

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Virgin Galactic Announces $81 Million Net Loss for Q4, $353 Million Loss for 2021

  • Commercial Service Remains on Track for Q4 2022
  • Current Fleet Enhancement Program On Schedule to be Completed in Q3 2022
  • Opened Ticket Sales to the General Public

TUSTIN, Calif. (Virgin Galactic PR)– Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or the “Company”) today announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2021 and provided a business update.

“We remain on track and on schedule to complete our enhancement program and launch commercial service later this year,” said Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic. “We achieved many important milestones in 2021 that laid an essential foundation towards becoming a scaled, commercial operation. In recent weeks, we opened sales to the general public and launched our new global consumer brand. Demand for our one-of-a-kind experience remains strong, and we are currently building our operations to accommodate our growing customer base.”

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Chamath Palihapitiya Steps Down as Virgin Galactic Chairman to Spend More Time with Other SPACs

Chamath Palihapitiya (Credit: SCH)
  • Departure comes four days before quarterly & full year earnings call
  • Silicon Valley billIionaire took company public in October 2019 through merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC)
  • Sold $100 million personal investment for $313 million
  • Continues to own Virgin Galactic shares through Social Capital Hedosophia

TUSTIN, Calif., February 18, 2022 (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (the “Company” or “Virgin Galactic”) announced today that, effective immediately, Chamath Palihapitiya will step down as chairman and as a member of its Board of Directors to focus on other public company board commitments. As part of the announcement, the Board appointed Director Evan Lovell as Interim Chairman until a new chair is in place.

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Virgin Galactic Opens Limited Opportunity to Purchase Future Spaceflight Reservation

Launches iconic new consumer brand designed to support commercial business

LAS CRUCES, N.M., February 15, 2022 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) (the “Company” or “Virgin Galactic”), an aerospace and space travel company, announced today that ticket sales will open to the general public starting on February 16, providing the opportunity to purchase one of the initial spaceflight reservations and secure membership in the unique community of Future Astronauts.  

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Virgin Galactic Opens Ticket Sales and Rebrands, Waves Bye Bye to Richard Branson’s Eye Eye

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic opened ticket sales to the general public and rebranded itself today a week ahead of what promises to be another dismal quarterly earnings report. The company most recently reported to having 700 reservations for suborbital spaceflights, with plans to reach 1,000 later this year. Space tourism flights are currently scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2022.

Virgin Galactic’s battered stock, which opened at $8.93, soared by more than 29 percent to $10.50 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company is scheduled to report earnings (actually a loss) for the fourth quarter of 2021 on Feb. 22.

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My Appearance on The Space Show Now Available for Listening


My appearance on The Space Show with David Livingston last night is now archived for your listening pleasure:

https://thespaceshow.com/show/08-feb-2022/broadcast-3823-doug-messier

ESG Hound called in to discuss the ongoing FAA environmental assessment of SpaceX’s Boca Chica Starbase and the legal issues surrounding it. Most of the media have all but ignored the subject. It’s worth understanding in light of Elon Musk’s Starship update on Thursday evening at 9 p.m. EST.

We also talked about Virgin Galactic’s new president, Spaceport America’s multi-million dollar revenue problem, the proliferation of private space stations and modules, and what is shaping up to the busiest launch year in history.

I had a great time. Thank you to David for inviting me on. Thanks to ESG Hound for illuminating the issues at stake in the FAA’s attempt to approve Super Heavy/Starship launches from Boca Chica.

Virgin Galactic Appoints Blair Rich as President and Chief Business Officer, Commercial and Consumer Operations

Blair Rich (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Veteran marketing innovator will lead Company’s commercial and consumer business and evolution of iconic consumer brand

LAS CRUCES, N.M., February 8, 2022 (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (the “Company” or “Virgin Galactic”), an aerospace and space travel company, announced today that Blair Rich has been appointed President and Chief Business Officer, Commercial and Consumer Operations as the company prepares for the launch of commercial service later this year. In this newly created role, Rich will lead all aspects of the Company’s commercial strategy including sales, marketing, business and product development, communications, operations, and customer experience.

Rich has more than two decades of experience building some of the world’s most recognizable global brands. Most recently, she served as President of Worldwide Marketing for Warner Bros.’ Theatrical and Home Entertainment divisions. For the past year, she has served as a consultant and strategic advisor to Virgin Galactic. During that time, she helped the Company develop and grow its commercial strategy, including the marketing for Sir Richard Branson’s inaugural spaceflight as a member of the Unity 22 crew, which was viewed by tens of millions of people around the world.

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