Former SpaceXer Joins Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne
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.”