Behind the scenes at Virgin Galactic

It was wonderful to see our spaceship VSS Unity successfully completing her third rocket powered, supersonic test flight in less than four months. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of the teams at Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company that we are making such great progress. I love hearing about all the preparation that goes on behind the scenes and feeling the excitement radiate off the team. 

In this video, Virgin Galactic’s Vice President Julia Hunter, who has been with the team for more than 12 years, describes her journey and why she thinks going to space is so important.

She recounts how it all started with the Ansari X Prize – a challenge aimed at bringing some private sector flair into human spaceflight. The rules focused on reusability – the key to regular, affordable access to space and commercial viability for private space companies. SpaceShipOne met the challenge magnificently and, to cut a long story short, Virgin Galactic was go!

I remember sitting on the back of the truck that was towing the spaceship after its awe-inspiring, prize-winning flight and pinching myself. It was such an historic turning point for human spaceflight and at that moment it felt like anything was possible.

Julia celebrates the team and says how a programme such as Virgin Galactic needs the best hearts and minds. I certainly feel like I am surrounded by the smartest people on the planet every time I visit and I couldn’t be prouder of everything our space companies are achieving.

I’ve been fortunate to meet Julia on many memorable occasions, from the early days when she was based in Virgin Galactic’s original London office to more recently watching test flights together on the Mojave flight line. She’s a great example of what makes the Virgin family so special – passionate, very smart, fun and always thinking of others.

Julia talks about her excitement that Virgin Galactic has the ability to change our relationship with space; that even though we’re a species which has lived in the space age for many decades, most people feel no connection with the world outside our world. She explains that allowing  thousands of people to experience space for themselves will allow them to look outward and back but with a new perspective in both directions.  

I agree – space has the ability to unite humanity and help us overcome our differences. It helps us see the bigger picture and the fragility of our existence.

The teams in Mojave are now analysing flight test data and I am looking forward to seeing VSS Unity flying higher and faster as  the test flight programme progresses – watch this space.


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