FAITH, Hope and Love: Virgin Galactic's Path to Recovery

  • Nov 21, 2014 12:36pm GMT

Three weeks after the high altitude break-up of SpaceShipTwo Enterprise, the engineers, technicians and staff of the Virgin Galactic are in different places in coping with the loss.

I was going up to Mojave almost every day after the accident and was heartened to see people willing to open up, support each other, and talk through what was going on. Although some were still visibly shaken, others found the best way to cope was to devote themselves to their work, finding tasks that they could still meaningfully move forward on.

I was especially heartened to see the lovely article by veteran space journalist Alan Boyle yesterday. As Alan says in the article, "The death of Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury during SpaceShipTwo's breakup on Oct. 31, and the impact of that death on the family he left behind, are foremost in the minds of the team at California's Mojave Air and Space Port. But SpaceShipTwo Serial No. 1 is also being mourned."

The article features pictures and quotes from nine of our folks from functions ranging across the company, sharing their personal reactions and thoughts. I highly recommend it. Boyle titled his article, "FAITH, Hope and Tragedy: Engineers Cope With SpaceShipTwo Loss."

Most of the Virgin Galactic team work in a large hangar built specifically to fit the incredible 140 ft wingspan of a WhiteKnightTwo (a Southwest 737 wingspan is 112 ft). The hangar was christened "FAITH" at its dedication ceremony in Sept 2011. "FAITH" is a dutiful, aerospace acronym that stands for 'Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar.'

Alan Boyle, like others, notes the new nickname "Hope" for the second SpaceShipTwo currently two-thirds assembled and 90% structurally complete. And although he didn't go there, I will go ahead and add in Love. Because if there is one thing I see a lot of in that hangar right now it is love. If there is one thing that is keeping this team going right now, it is love. Love of space, love of these vehicles, love of a challenge, love for each other and most of all love pouring in from around the world.

There is a wall of printed messages of love and support from leaders, NASA astronauts, Galactic customers, and just fans and supporters from all over the planet. Our team gets to walk past these messages every day as they go to work and I am clear it is making a huge difference.

So FAITH, Hope and Love and the greatest of these is Love. I hope you will share some with the team too.

A few of our folks spend the past two weeks lovingly crafting a new Virgin Galactic website from scratch. They wanted to create something that was a better match for our current reality and helped speak the message and vision of Galactic in a new way. The old site is still available if you need it by clicking the Web Archive link, but I hope you will appreciate and enjoy all the love that went into sharing our vision and our commitment. It is still a work in progress, so please be patient!