Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two Unveiling…and meeting Richard Branson
Just back from New York City for Virgin Galactic‘s unveiling of the Spaceship Two and their “Year of the Spaceship” party.
What can I say? It was pretty cool. Starting at the Museum of Natural History when Branson and Burt Rutan revealed the new design for Spaceship Two. They’ve taken a new direction beyond just space tourism with the design. Instead of the original design with the rocket launching beneath Spaceship One – this new design has the rocket situated in between two high-altitude, all carbon fiber jets.
Here’s Branson and SpaceShip Two designer, Burt Rutan, with the ship:
The new design actually is incredibly versatile and I was really impressed with the forethought that went into it. It can be used for training future VG passengers (since it can mimic the G’s pulled on re-entry), it can have loved ones and family watching you blast off. Or it’s most impressive feature is the “open architecture” which would allow it to be used for more commercial purposes like launching satellites.
Here’s part of Sir Richard Branson’s speech:
As ticket holder #152 I’m super excited and cant’ wait! Though everyone at Virgin was quick to point out they are not in a race – but they said test flights should begin this Summer.
It was interesting meeting the wide range of “future astronauts” in attendance. You’ve got your die-hard space fans, who as kids dreamt of flying into space, you’ve got your accomplished entrepreneurs looking for their next adventure, a slew of engineers, pilots or just “regular” people with an adventure streak. Actually, as I talked to people there – I don’t think I could find one striking similarity except for the fact each person believed they were pioneers and part of something big. Part of Branson’s speech mentioned the population explosion would force humans to reach beyond our planet for survival.
Later that night Virgin hosted their “Year of the Spaceship” party.
Missy came along with me and we had a chance to chat with Branson’s Mom, Eve. As a big Branson fan, I had to find out about one of the stories in his autobiography about his Mom dropping him off away from home and telling him to find his way. I have to go back and read the passage but this is what I found online:
Branson’s mother, Eve, is a former flight attendant who served with the RAF during World War II. One day when Ricky was four, she left him in the countryside with a sack lunch and told him to find his way home. A neighbor eventually discovered him chasing butterflies. A few years later Eve dropped him 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home with his bike. “I’m sure you’ll find water along the way,” she told him, waving goodbye.
Now when I asked Eve about this – she laughed and said it wasn’t quite so bad. She said he was 6 and he left him down the hill and told him to find his way back. But the neighbor did find him and ask if he belonged to her. Mrs. Branson did say Americans coddle their kids too much and she might have a point – since struggle breeds independence. Missy was standing next to me and laughing since I’ve told her we need to do that with Zak.
Here’s a pic with me, Eve, Missy and Holly, one of the Branson’s family friends.
Since I was chums with Mummy Branson – I worked my way over to meet Sir Richard. It’s hard meeting one of your heroes. I told Richard I was huge fan of his way of doing business and we had a clink of glasses over that. I also gave him one of the metal Maverick Business Adventures cards – he told me he liked the name. I guess that’s a start to getting Branson on a future trip
Here we are:
At the party, I also met Peter Diamandis, the founder of the Xprize Foundation. Peter is going to be one of our celebrity business guests at the next Maverick Business Adventures in May when we do a Zero-G flight, Air combat mission and helicopter flight into the Grand Canyon. Peter was instrumental in actually catapulting the civilian space industry by offering a $10M prize for the first ship to go into space successfully twice in one week. And that ship was Burt Rutan’s SpaceShip One (now on display in the Smithsonian).
Next update after Baja…