Former SpaceXer Joins Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne

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​TYBEE ISLAND, Georgia — Former SpaceX Business Development Senior Vice President Barry Matsumori has joined Virgin Galactic’s start-up LauncherOne launch service, Virgin Galactic confirmed Aug. 19.

​Matsumori, who until leaving SpaceX in the spring was the company’s principal customer-facing representative for commercial launches, joins a long list of former SpaceX employees making the move to LauncherOne, industry officials said.

​“Barry is a proven leader in providing customer-focused solutions for the global space industry,” Virgin Galactic Chief Executive George T. Whitesides said in a statement. “We look forward to his contributions as we move toward commercial operations of LauncherOne and related services.”

​Matsumori left SpaceX shortly before the company’s Falcon 9 vehicle suffered its first complete launch failure, on June 28, and arrives at Virgin Galactic after that company’s experimental SpaceShipTwo vehicle’s October 2014 in-flight break-up, which killed the co-pilot and injuring the pilot. There were no passengers.

​Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has yet to announce a return to flight schedule, although industry officials speculate it could be in October, with a launch of the vehicle. Virgin Galactic has yet to provide a clear return-to-flight schedule.

​Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne is designed to carry small satellites into low Earth orbit. The company is a founding investor in OneWeb LLC of Britain’s Channel Islands, which has raised initial capital to launch some 900 satellites into orbit.

​Most of the OneWeb spacecraft will be launched aboard Russian Soyuz rockets from the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, following a contract with Europe’s Arianespace launch consortium. But LauncherOne has been contracted to perform 39 launches, each carrying between one and three satellites, for in-orbit replacement once the network is in place. OneWeb is LauncherOne’s first firm customer.

​Before working on SpaceX’s commercial launch business, Matsumori was a vice president at Qualcomm Inc. for wireless connectivity. Qualcomm is also a founding investor in OneWeb and will build the network’s chipsets.

​“Virgin Galactic has a unique set of capabilities to expand the availability of space access and overall space development,” Matsumori said in a statement. “I am excited to be part of the team that will make this happen.”