Capitalism in space: A federal complaint has been filed against Virgin Galactic, claiming the company made false and misleading reports concerning its financial state.
Investor Shane Levin and other unnamed plaintiffs claim in their complaint that Virgin Galatic CEO Michael Colglazier, former CEO George Whitesides, CFO Doug Ahrens and former CFO Jon Campagna knowingly presented incorrect financial statements to inflate the company’s stock price and entice buyers.
The lawsuit is seeking class-action status and unspecified damages, in addition to legal fees.
Also today an anonymous source claimed that, assuming Virgin Galactic can get FAA approval, the company has suddenly changed its test flight schedule and is now planning to fly Richard Branson on its SpaceShipTwo Unity spacecraft on July 4th. This would have Branson reach suborbital space about two weeks ahead of Jeff Bezos, who is presently scheduled to fly on a suborbital flight his own New Shepard spacecraft on July 20th.
Branson for almost two decades has promised he would fly on the first commercial operational flight of SpaceShipTwo, while also promising repeatedly that this flight was only months away. All of those promises were bunkum. Now faced with Jeff Bezos grabbing that first flight, Branson is suddenly scrambling to finally get it done, even if it means disrupting Virgin Galactic’s already announced test schedule.
The first story above tells us something about the honesty of Virgin Galactic’s finances. The second story tells us something about the trustworthiness of its management and engineering. I might consider the pace of Blue Origin in the past five years to have been far too slow, but they have at least shown a careful deliberate path to flight. Bezos’ July 20th flight might be a stunt, but it is being done to demonstrate his trust in his product.
Not so much from Branson and Virgin Galactic. For Branson, feeding his ego seems more important.
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