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The sad story of Virgin Galactic

Link here. This so-called suborbital space tourism company, which for years has promised to fly tourists on suborbital flights to space but failed to do so, appears now to be trying to shift gears and instead make itself into a company building supersonic airplanes.

Richard Branson’s dream of a suborbital Virgin Galactic vehicle zipping passengers between distant cities at hypersonic speeds above Mach 5 (6,174 km/h, 3,836 mph) is dead. At least for now.

In August, the space tourism company he founded pivoted to a slower supersonic Mach 3 (3,704 km/h, 2,302 mph) business jet. Virgin Galactic unveiled a mission concept for an aircraft that would carry 9-19 passengers at a cruising altitude of 60,000 ft (18,288 m).

Since Branson began selling off his stock in May and became a minority owner in the company, the new management has apparently shifted its focus away from suborbital space tourism to building a supersonic airplane for commercial travel on Earth.

The problem is that there are already a lot of companies working to do this, and Virgin Galactic is in last place, even as it scrambles to find new investment capital simply to begin development.

After sixteen years, this company has so far accomplished nothing, while spending probably more than $2 billion in private capital. It now wants more, even as Richard Branson has sold off his stock at a nifty profit. (I am no stock market expert, but if I has any interest in buying stock (I do not), this would not be the stock I’d buy.)

Branson however is not entirely off the hook. His entire empire, built on transportation and tourism, is in big trouble because of the Wuhan panic. It might now all collapse, tragically crashing to Earth as did the first SpaceShipTwo several years ago.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

5 comments

  • Jay

    I don’t know if Virgin Galactic is in last place on development. Their subsidiary – The Spaceship Company, is partnered with a company called Boom Technology out of Colorado which will be testing their scaled down Mach 2 plane called “Baby Boom” next year. Boom Technologies is planning on making a full size 55-seat plane in 2029. Will they actually make it?
    I looked up “The Spaceship Company”, and this is the spin-off of Scaled Composites to take care of the White Knight and Spaceship2 vehicles. Scaled Composites did own a percentage of the company but sold it all to Virgin in 2012. Scaled Composites was later bought out by Northrup Grumman.

  • LocalFluff

    Oh well, I don’t know. But Branson is in the airline business after all. So him lowering his media bar by 80 kilometers isn’t too bad, I think. Supersonic commercial aircrafts would be great!

    “- Sir, we’ve got this strategic stock valuation problem of having our entire industry locked down once every two decades for various made up reasons. What should we do about it?
    – Fly faster!”

  • V-Man

    Where the heck did all that money go? They didn’t built that much hardware (a handful of vehicles), and the design/tech hasn’t really evolved since the SpaceShipOne days.

  • pzatchok

    he used VG as an expense dump.
    Everything he did he wrote off as an expense of VG.
    He never intended to actually do anything with the company except file bankruptcy in the end.

    If it all worked out easy and cheaply the first time then everything was fine but since it didn’t he dropped the idea and just kept it around as a shell.

  • Jeff Wright

    I expected as much

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