Dreamers and innovators: Meet Kelly Latimer from Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit pilots smile from the flight deck on Cosmic Girl
Virgin Orbit
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 11 February 2021

I’ve always admired the dreamers who are also the ‘doers’ of the world. The unique and wonderful group of individuals who don’t let fear stand in their way and simply go for it. Those who dream differently, dream bigger, and strive each day to make those dreams a reality. The women and men who live firmly in the present, but constantly look to the future in their minds - believing they can truly make the impossible, possible.

I’ve been so lucky to grow up surrounded by many of these dreamers and innovators. To his very core, my dad is driven by discovering the new, pushing the boundaries, and creating a better future by supporting and investing in often unrecognised visionaries.


In the 80s and 90s, while still growing Virgin into the global brand it is today, the innovators that attracted Dad were mostly involved in adventure. Whether it was Dad flying the largest hot air balloon ever built over the Atlantic, or backing Steve Fossett as he flew the first solo nonstop flight around the world in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer (an aircraft built purely in composites to show what to future of aircraft could be), I got to watch first-hand as dreamers became ‘doers’.

Joan Branson with Holly Branson and Richard Branson in front of a hot air balloon
Branson family

With Dad at the helm, Virgin has always been an innovative company. Over the past 50 years, we have never shied away from introducing first-of-its-kind, world-class products and services across our companies. 

The last 10 years have been some of the most exciting years in our history, with a drive that is truly futuristic and focussed on imagining and building the previously unimaginable. 

Many of our unbranded green tech investments are redefining the way the planet creates and consumes energy, exploring ways to preserve resources for the planet, and eradicating plastic waste. They are striving to build a world that is different to the one we live in now, but a world that will be infinitely better for all global citizens.

Richard Branson with his hands up with large solar panels on each side
Image by Owen Buggy

There are also days where I have to seriously pinch myself. From watching Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit’s spaceflights, to seeing Virgin Hyperloop complete a successful first passenger test in its magnetically levitating pods - it's more than a little surreal! I have to remind myself that it is real though, thanks to a group of people who are working hard every day to get us to space; to launch small satellites and open communications to more parts of the world; and to build a new method of mass transportation that can propel passengers at speeds of over 1000 km/h.

Virgin Hyperloop
Virgin Hyperloop

As the innovation continues, I want to shine a light on some of dreamers and innovators within the Virgin Family - and those we invest in - who are out there bringing the future to our doorsteps, and making the world a little bit better while they’re at it.

To kick off the series, I’m over the moon to share an interview I hosted with Kelly Latimer - Chief Test Pilot at Virgin Orbit and soon to be one of the first commercial spaceship pilots at Virgin Galactic. Here's our full conversation, I hope you enjoy it.

The Dreamers and Innovators: Kelly Latimer from Virgin Orbit