Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin, Space, Spaceflight CEO on preparations for Richard Branson's spaceflight
The company announcing it will attempt to launch its next test flight uh flight test. I should say on july 11th, which will carry founders to richard branson. Branson is looking to beat fellow billionaire jeff bezos to space uh as bezos looks to launch his own company blue origin. Uh on that on that company’s uh new shepard capsule on july 20th. Joining us now is virgin galactic ceo, michael cole, glazier michael great, to have you back on thanks for joining us today, good morning, morgan it’s good day to be here yeah what an exciting couple of weeks we have ahead of us um. You know i spoke to sir richard earlier this week when your sister company virgin orbit successfully carried satellites to orbit and at that time, when i, when i asked him what the game plan was for him to go to space, he said that he was waiting for The engineers to tell me when i can go to space quote unquote, you take that you couple it with the faa approval last friday. How long has this plan been in the works? Well, the plan has been in the works. You know for quite some time because we’ve had this test flight program going on and, as you know, we have four test flights. We were playing planning to do. We did our first in may 22nd on may 22nd and it was excellent uh and it showed that we are technically ready to go uh.
We did a lot of diligent analysis after that flight that’s, the same data that we gave to the faa and, as you mentioned, that’s, what the faa used as the basis to approve our commercial license going forward. And when we finished that analysis, we knew we would be pivoting from focus on technical side of the flight test, to the focus on the cabin experience and what the astronaut experience would be like for these next two flights um. But we had to wait until the technical work was done and richard was pretty patient about that. So then, as we shift, this focus to now the private astronaut experience in the cabin environment. These next two test flights are pretty much going to be the same. We originally had thought we would maybe rehearse and have somebody stand in for richard, just to kind of show what would be going on. We realized most of that training’s done on the ground and so had a chance to say richard. You could go on either of these two flights, which would you prefer you can kind of imagine what he had to say back and uh he’s excited to go now that it’s ready yeah. I mean given the fact that that there has been that switch um. The fact that he’s going to be on this test flight sooner now – i do wonder, though i mean, was the news that your direct competitor blue origin, sending that company’s founder to space uh a factor in the decision for this change in timeline.
Absolutely not, and i know, it’s a fun headline. I know a lot of media like that headline. We only fly when we’ve assessed all of our data and we are safe to fly and ready to fly and we’ve been working on that along. We announced quite some time ago that we’d be running these test flights and the next two would be in the summer, so um waiting for the analysis we’ve been planning for some time that our next of the test flights would be somewhere around mid july. So that plan has been going. We finished the data analysis and that allowed us to announce our flight date yesterday and then we’ve also been planning for richard to be one of our test mission specialists, because we wanted him to represent all the future astronauts who are coming. This is going to be an amazing transformative event for people that they kind of plan for for much of their lives and are excited for it do better than richard when he comes back for us to interview and say, okay, how was that? How did we deliver? How did we set up the trading program was the journey that we took you on for the year in advance and the week in advance in new mexico. Did it set you up for this amazing moment above the earth and that’s his role and we’ve been planning for him to do that for quite a while? The ship’s now ready, he’s been really patient about it, but now it’s time, yeah and certainly i think, back to last year, pre pandemic, i mean the game plan had been for him to fly around his birthday, which is july 18th.
So perhaps not that surprising to see it happen this month in light of that as well. That being said, what is he going to experience he and his three crew mates, and what does that training ahead of time entail sure they? This group of four mission specialists uh, are going to experience exactly what our future astronauts are going to experience, so the training actually starts uh well in advance. As you know, richard’s been ready for years and and working on his training for that, but specifically for the week before the flight, uh there’s a period of very focused training, uh it’s, about building muscle memory for how you will work within the cabin but it’s. Also getting ready kind of physically, spiritually emotionally, intellectually, because the moments in weightlessness looking back at the earth are relatively few over the course of a lifetime, and we want to make sure that memory is so strong and still so powerful that it lasts with you forever. So all of our training is really focused on setting up that memory: uh that’s, what we’re taking richard and his team through this upcoming week and that’s, what we’ll be asking how it went when he comes back safety, it’s of the utmost importance? How are you planning for that? What does that look like uh, well, i’d, say safety is built in at the foundation of everything we do, and you know you mentioned. We were originally planning to fly richard well back like a year ago and we had more test flights to do.
We had more efforts to go, and so we never really worry about the schedule. Uh driving anything. We worry about our technical readiness, driving everything and so that’s how this company works, that’s, how we’re built that’s, where we’re, embedding in the culture of this so now that the technical readiness is there and it’s there because of the data that shows it’s there and it’s There, because of the diligence of the team that works on this so hard, so now that that is ready, it does really give us the ability to focus on the next phase, the cabin experience and now we’re going to get repetition and repeating under our belt, on The technical flights uh the last flight may flew just as we wanted it to go so we’re just going to keep doing that flight profile and move forward. But this takes us another step to opening the door of making space accessible for far more people than has ever been possible and that’s pretty exciting, shepard smith.