I wish you could have met my dad, your great-grandad. He was a truly wonderful man who taught me so much; he encouraged me, equipped me with the confidence to follow my dreams and sometimes, when my exuberance got the better of me, gently pulled me up. He was full of wise words, but it was his most straightforward observation which has stuck with me. Life, he used to say, is wonderful. That was it. Life is wonderful. And it is that simple but essential truth, above all else, which has driven me as I have built businesses, raised my family and embarked upon my many adventures.
You are at the very start of life, it is an incredible gift and it is there for the taking. It will deliver highs and lows, trials and tribulations, failures and triumphs. But by living it to the full, by always trying to do the right thing and by never losing that sense of adventure which you now posses with such abundance, it will indeed be wonderful.
Our great space adventure started with a personal dream nearly 50 years ago; the registering of a company name nearly 20 years ago and then 14 years of the most incredibly challenging work. I have learned so much during that time, we all have, and there is so much more to learn. We have had our tough days and our naysayers, but we have supported each other and always kept moving forwards.
I used to think of space as a destination but I now realise it’s a journey with some incredible milestones along the way. We passed the most significant of them all as our beautiful VSS Unity, packed with the hopes and dreams of so many, became the first spaceship built for regular passenger service, to put humans into space.
By the time you are my age, I believe our lives will have been unimaginably transformed by space and, because of that, you will be the first generation fully to embrace the planetary perspective on which the future of humanity rests - that we are all in this together, fellow travellers on spaceship Earth. I hope you will look back with some pride that your grandad did his bit to try and change the road to space from a narrow and treacherous footpath, to a broad highway, open to all. A change which helped to preserve the Earth as a sustainable, beautiful and bountiful home for humankind.
Virgin Galactic has been a great reminder to me of the power of together; that when you set off on challenging and important adventures, it is humbling how many exceptional people join along the way: people who are by your side and on your side regardless of the terrain; people who share your dreams and people, who with great skill and unwavering commitment, help make them a reality.
As I watched Unity and her brave pilots soar upwards into the black sky of space today, my vision blurred by tears, I could hear your great grandad whisper once again in my ear - life is wonderful.
Hold tight to your childhood spirit of wonder, curiosity and adventure; and as we open space for everyone, use it to change the world for good.
Your ever loving grand-dude,