“ I want to be involved in something that I can talk about with pride for the rest of my life.” Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director, Virgin Galactic
As Virgin Galactic celebrates its second successful test flight, as a pre-cursor to launching a fully commercial service, it’s a good time to reflect on my thought-provoking meeting with its global Commercial Director, Stephen Attenborough, during his visit to Australia late last year.
What commenced 15 years ago as a bold vision to launch the first passenger-carrying commercial space line — when Branson realised no one else was going to take him there — is now a reality. Virgin has already seen two successful test flights, meaning commercial passengers could be enjoying suborbital flights in 2020.
For Attenborough, as the first full-time and longest-serving employee of Virgin Galactic, it’s been an incredible voyage and something ‘I’ll be able to talk about for the rest of my life!’ The story of how Virgin Galactic has created a new market for space exploration in the digital age is an extraordinary one.
Beyond, however, the innovative technology and non-negotiable commitment to risk elimination, and with Virgin’s trademark focus on delivering an unparalleled customer experience, the ‘mission’ is what really seems to matter the most.
As for the close-knit community of approximately 600 lucky individuals who have already secured a ticket for the out-of-this-world ride of their life (bookings are closed!), each is being challenged to use this life-affirming experience to realise their own personal mission.
But for Branson, the man known for unreservedly pushing boundaries, his purpose for Virgin Galactic transcends personal, national and global borders, both physically and socially. No longer confined to the realms of sci-fi, but in the very near future, when Branson steps aboard the VSS Unity suborbital spacecraft and buckles up as the first passenger on that inaugural commercial flight, his mission ‘to democratise space and change the world for the better’ will become a reality.
While the world feels a very different place right now — I’m sure even for Branson — big, bold goals often take years to achieve. Don’t lose sight of your dreams just because of 2020. This might just be the kick-start you need to charter a brave new course.
Reflecting on Virgin Galactic’s audacious mission, what will you be part of that’s worth talking about for the rest of your life?