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Virgin Galactic

In: Business and Management

Submitted By taktat
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Research on Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has us all excited about space travel, but we are slightly less excited about the Virgin Galactic cost. Those tickets into suborbital space are not cheap, and most of us will not be able to afford the trip for a while.
What is the Virgin Galactic Cost?

A 2008 book about space tourism stated that, "The cost of suborbital flight advertised by private space companies such as Virgin Galactic and Starchaser Industries is in the order of U.S. $200,000." [Source: Erik Seedhouse, page 27].

Virgin Galactic's webpage confirms that $200,000 is still the cost of a ticket of admission, and that at least 100 people have already paid that fare in full. [Source: virgingalactic.com]. Apparently, the company intends to keep the cost of tickets at this level for the time being.

Will the Virgin Galactic Cost Come Down?

In a 2008 interview, Stephen Attenborough, commercial director for Virgin Galactic said he thought competition would eventually drive ticket prices down to $50,000 or lower. [Source: The Independent]. He did not give any timeframe for this decrease.

It seems inevitable that competition will force Virgin Galactic and other space flight companies to lower their prices. Low price is, after all, the most obvious way for a company to distinguish its product. But with $200,000 spaceflights still a thing of the future, it might be a while before the average Star Trek fan can afford a trip to space.

Conclusions About The Virgin Galactic Cost

I suspect the real factor that will determine the cost of Virgin Galactic tickets is what consumers are actually willing to pay. As noted above, at least 100 people have paid the full $200,000 already. But how many more people will be able and willing to shell out that amount? There are a lot of wealthy people in the world, but not all of them want to go to space, and there are a lot of people who want to go to space but cannot afford the $200,000 cost.

The Virgin Galactic cost will eventually have to conform itself to real demand. That is a happy thought for the millions of us who could come up with a couple thousand, but not a couple hundred thousand.

Sources

"How Virgin Galactic will make space tourists of us all - Technology, Business - Independent.ie." Irish Independent News in Ireland & Worldwide | Irish Newspaper | News Stories Online-Independent.ie. 19 July 2009 .

Seedhouse, Erik. Tourists in Space: A Practical Guide (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration). Chichester, UK.: Praxis, 2008.

"Virgin Galactic." Virgin Galactic. 19 July 2009 .

http://www.rocketeers.co.uk/taxonomy/term/8?page=17

Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson and SpaceshipOne (SS1) designer, Burt Rutan, today reveal SS2 to the public for the first time since construction of the world’s first manned commercial spaceship began in 2007. SS2 has been designed to take many thousands of private astronauts into space after test programming and all required U.S. government licensing has been completed.

The unveiling represents another major milestone in Virgin Galactic’s quest to develop the World’s first commercial space line providing private sector access to space using an environmentally benign launch system for people, payload and science. The spaceship draws on the experience developed during the successful flights of SS1 in 2004, which won the Ansari X-Prize for completing the world’s first manned private space flights. The SS2 design will be refined and completed during an extensive test flying program to commence shortly, and it will be an entirely new vehicle capable of carrying up to 6 passenger astronauts and up to 2 pilot astronauts into space on a sub-orbital flight.

The unveil itself will take place at Mojave Air and Spaceport as darkness falls on the famous aviation and spaceflight location. Subject to certain U.S. regulatory requirements that will guide the unveiling, SS2 will be attached to her WK2 mothership which was last year unveiled and named EVE after Sir Richard Branson’s mother. In the future, WK2 will carry SS2 to above 50,000 feet (16 kilometres) before the spaceship is dropped and fires her rocket motor to launch into space from that altitude. In honour of a long tradition of using the word Enterprise in the naming of Royal Navy, US Navy, NASA vehicles and even science fiction spacecraft, Governor Schwarzenegger of California and Governor Richardson of New Mexico will today christen SS2 with the name Virgin Space Ship (VSS) ENTERPRISE. This represents not only an acknowledgement to that name’s honorable past but also looks to the future of the role of private enterprise in the development of the exploration, industrialisation and human habitation of space.

The emergence of new commercial space companies like Virgin Galactic will be an engine for employment, growth and the creation of a new technology and science base in the United States. Recent research has indicated that 12,500 jobs have already been created by the new space companies; the Virgin Galactic project alone is creating significant opportunities for employment in both the company itself and with suppliers in both California and New Mexico. Approximately 600 people are now working on activities relating to the project and it is estimated that this figure will rise to over 1,100 jobs during the peak of the construction phase at the space port and through the introduction of the commercial space vehicles into regular astronaut service.

Both WK2 and SS2 represent state of the art environmentally sensitive industrial development in their use of carbon composite materials technology, which has now been identified as a key future contributor to the increasingly urgent requirement by the commercial aviation sector for dramatically more fuel efficient aircraft. WK2 is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines, which are amongst the most powerful. economic and efficient commercial jet engines available making it a mould breaker in carbon efficiency. SS2 will be powered by a unique hybrid rocket motor, which is currently under development.

The twin fuselage and central payload area configuration allow for easy access to WK2 and to the spaceship for passengers and crew; the design also aids operational efficiencies and turnaround times. The mothership has now also completed a year of rigorous and successful first phase flight testing prior to today’s attachment of SS2.

Commenting on the unveiling, Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic said: “This is truly a momentous day. The team has created not only a world first but also a work of art. The unveil of SS2 takes the Virgin Galactic vision to the next level and continues to provide tangible evidence that this ambitious project is not only moving rapidly, but also making tremendous progress towards our goal of safe commercial operation”.

Burt Rutan, Founder of Scaled Composites added: “All of us at Scaled are tremendously excited by the capabilities of both the mothership and SS2. Today is the culmination of a dream that began many decades ago, was stimulated by Paul Allen’s funding of our X-Prize winning SS1 and then moved forward to commercial reality by Sir Richard and Virgin’s visionary investment in a new future for space transportation”.

SpaceShipTwo will be unveiled after darkness has fallen over the Mojave Desert to the sound of a space-themed anthem from Britain’s biggest DJs, Above & Beyond. Fittingly titled “Buzz” the track will sample Buzz Aldrin’s original moon landing dialogue. Following the naming by Governors Richardson and Schwarzenegger, the DJs will also perform an exclusive set at the celebration cocktail party which will follow and feature the first ever IceBar in the desert hosted by Absolut and the world famous Swedish IceHotel. All the guests will be protected from the desert cold by designer space jackets supplied by PUMA. Finally, to close off the celebrations, all the guests will have the opportunity to view the stunning night skies using specialist telescopes supplied by Ron Dantowitz of the Clay Observatory whose unique tracking cameras followed SS1 into space during the epic flights of 2004.

For further information go to www.virgingalactic.com

For downloadable images and graphics go to: www.virgingalactic.com/SS2Unveil

Cost of Virgin Galactic flight could fall to £60,000

The price of a trip into space with Virgin Galactic could fall to under £60,000 in the next six years, according to former president of Virgin Galactic Will Whitehorn.
Speaking at the Advantage conference in Madrid, Whitehorn said space travel would become more affordable than the current $200,000 price tag, but was unlikely to fall below £60,000.
He said: “My colleagues at Virgin Galactic are going to make that a priority. It should come down below $100,000 – some people pay that for a cruise. The aim is to carry 50,000 people over the next six years.”
Whitehorn left Virgin Galactic earlier this year but remains a consultant. He was replaced by former Nasa head of staff George Whitesides.
He was involved from the formation of the company in 2004 and was responsible for the design and investment. He recalled: “We had to prove there was a business case for space tourism. We set up a website and soon we had 800,000 registrations and 100 customers who paid a deposit.
“The word of the web sold this – we had no money to spend on marketing. We set up Space Book for our customers to have discussions in closed walled environments.”
Among the first 100 to sign up were opera singer Sarah Brightman and designer Phillipe Stark. The experience includes three days of training, but the actual trip into space lasts just two and a half hours.
Those who can’t afford the fare can content themselves with a trip to Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport in New Mexico, designed by Fosters and Partners, which will eventually become a tourist attraction.
Whitehorn predicted that travel would take place outside the Earth’s atmosphere in years to come.
“Travel will have to be outside the atmosphere in the next thirty years. You could do London to Sydney in 2.5 hours. There’s never going to be another Concorde. To get back to the exciting days of travel you have to be outside the atmosphere.”
Sales are rocketing at Virgin Galactic

Few companies can boast revenues worth tens of millions of dollars before actually delivering the "ultimate experience" promised - but that is what Virgin Galactic has achieved with its sales pitch that fulfils the dreams of the Apollo generation's wealthier members to carry them beyond the Earth.

In New York at the 23 January unveiling of Virgin Galactic's launch system, these customers saw pictures of the prototype SpaceShipTwo (SS2) that would carry them into the heavens, and its carrier aircraft, the White Knight II (WK2).

That tantalising dream of travelling above the 100km (62 mile) boundary separating the Earth from space has seen 250 customers, mostly in their forties and fifties, sign up for a trip through direct contact and a new network of 90 agents worldwide, generating $35 million in full ticket purchases and deposits, all of which is held in escrow.

Unsurprisingly, the sales and marketing arm of Sir Richard Branson's suborbital tourism venture, London based-Virgin Galactic Ltd, has shown an after-tax profit of £136,400 ($274,800), in the first publicly available financial accounts since the project's launch in 2004 and the UK company's establishment in June 2006.

But is Virgin's vision of personal spaceflight going to pay for its development costs and turn a profit? According to its 2006 suborbital and space tourism market study, US consultancy Futron concludes that a suborbital services business could, in its first year of operation, expect an annual demand of 1,000 people at a seat price of $200,000.

The Virgin's venture's economics had been the subject of a feasibility study carried out by Scaled Composites after the 4 October 2004 SpaceShipOne flight that saw its financier, Microsoft founder Paul Allen, win the $10 million Ansari X prize. The Scaled study led to a proposal for the Virgin group's investment committee, which was subsequently approved.

At the Royal Aeronautical Society on 27 September 2004 Branson and his partner in the space venture, Scaled president Burt Rutan, announced their plans that predicted the first suborbital commercial flights early in 2007 and a development cost for the Virgin group of $100 million.

These days the talk is of a first commercial flight in 2010 and a total cost for the project of around $250 million. SS2 and WK2 development costs have increased to $120 million, with $80 million of that spent, and there are a further $150 million expected costs for the fleet's manufacture, the ground-segments procurement and the operations implementation at its yet-to-be built headquarters, New Mexico's Spaceport America.

"This is high-risk capital because no one has ever done this before. This is the largest investment we have ever made," says Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn.

Funded by the Virgin Group, which operates like a venture capitalist, Whitehorn describes the pool of available money as "in the hundreds of millions". He explains that the quarter of a billion dollar price tag for Virgin Galactic is affordable because the spend is drawn out over many years, while the fund is receiving income from a range of other more mature investment projects.

If development is successful, a fleet of two WK2s and five SS2s will be constructed and Virgin Galactic has an option to buy seven more SS2s. Whitehorn's goal after three years in operation is to have two flights a day, with each of SS2's six passengers paying $200,000. If every flight were full, with 50 weeks of 10 flights, the annual revenue would be $600 million.

However, Virgin Galactic's chief pilot Stephen Johnson told Flight he expected that, in the first year, one flight a week was the target. Such a rate would see the current 250 passengers' flights completed in just over 40 weeks, generating $50 million.

The company seems to be looking far beyond a successful start to the Virgin Galactic venture. Whitehorn describes a scenario where he would approach the financial markets to fund the development of SpaceShipThree, a hypersonic vehicle for a point-to-point service that would leave the atmosphere to transport passengers to destinations around the world.

LauncherOne: Virgin Galactic's Satellite launcher project

We’re all excited about the launch of SpaceShipTwo today and fans of Virgin Galactic will be well aware of Galactic’s goals of carrying fare-paying passengers on sub-orbital flights in the coming years, but few people know about another Galactic project which is now gathering pace – the LauncherOne satellite system.

Back in January 2009 early discussions between Virgin Galactic and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford.

[pic]
LauncherOne, Virgin Galactic's Satellite launcher project. Credit: Virgin Galactic

SSTL is a world leader in the production of low-cost small satellites, and it was keen to explore the possibility of working with Virgin Galactic on a way to get these spacecraft into orbit much more cheaply than is currently possible.

The concept would be somewhat similar to the US Pegasus system, which uses a former airliner to lift a booster to 40,000ft, before releasing it to make its own way into space.

Virgin Galactic’s aim is to provide an air-launched system which is faster, cheaper, and more flexible.

It would use SpaceShipTwo’s mothership, “Eve”, as the launch platform.

Dr Adam Baker, then at SSTL, was originally hoping for funding from the UK government to do a small feasibility study. The hope was that if things came together, LauncherOne could be a UK-built rocket dispatched by Eve running out of a British airport somewhere.

Funding from the government wasn’t forthcoming and Dr Baker has now moved across to Virgin Galactic to lead its own in-house efforts to give the project momentum.

Certainly, there’s a compelling need for a cheaper, more flexible launch system for small satellites.

At the moment, a small satellite wanting to get into space may have to pay something like $5m-$10m.
Virgin Galactic really has to get that down to $1m-$2m for this venture to make financial sense.

And to make that happen, Dr Baker believes the development cost of the rocket to first flight also needs to be kept the right side $100m.

“The less we can spend developing this, the easier it is going to be to recoup the cost, and the lower the launch price can be.”

“Historically, rockets that have been developed from scratch have cost a lot more than $100m. We want to take as much advantage from all the previous 50 years of effort in designing launch vehicles to get the best from the market.”

By utilising the technology and advancements that Galactic have recently made it would appear that the feasibility this will at last be possible.

LONDON - Virgin Galactic, the British company created by entrepreneur Richard Branson to send tourists into space, and New Mexico announced an agreement Tuesday for the state to build a $225 million spaceport.

Virgin Galactic also revealed that up to 38,000 people from 126 countries have paid a deposit for a seat on one of its manned commercial flights, including a core group of 100 "founders" who have paid the initial $200,000 cost of a flight upfront. Virgin Galactic is planning to begin flights in late 2008 or early 2009.

New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans said construction of the spaceport, to be built largely underground in the south of the state near the White Sands Missile Range, could begin in early 2007, depending on approval from environmental and aviation authorities.

Virgin will have a 20-year lease on the facility, with annual payments of $1 million for the first five years and rising to cover the cost of the project by the end of the lease.

"Experts predict that thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment will be created in the next 20 years as the private sector develops new commercial markets in the space industry in New Mexico," Homans said in London.

"Virgin is the beginning and many other space companies will follow."

Virgin Galactic said it had chosen New Mexico as the site for its headquarters because of its steady climate, free airspace, low population density and high altitude. All those factors can significantly reduce the cost of the space flight program.

The spaceport, to be located some 25 miles south of the town of Truth or Consequences, will be constructed 90 percent underground, with just the runway and supporting structures above ground.

Stephen Attenborough, the Virgin Galactic executive in charge of marketing the space flights, said the 100 founder members were committed to "stepping up to the plate" and boarding a flight early in the operations.

"Many of the others will need to wait until the price comes down and will want to wait for proven reliability and safety," he said.

Trevor Beattie, a London-based advertising director who paid for his ticket within days of Branson's announcement of the company's launch, said he was not concerned about safety.

"My only concern is that the longer they leave the launch, the more likely we all are to be hit by a bus," said Beattie, who has dreamed of going to space since watching the 1969 moonwalk.

Branson formed Virgin Galactic after watching SpaceShipOne, a craft designed by Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, become the first privately manned rocket to reach space last year. SpaceShipOne went on to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize with two suborbital flights in five days from Mojave, Calif.

Virgin Galactic has a deal with Rutan to build five spacecraft, licensing technology from Allen's company, Mojave Aerospace Ventures.

Virgin Galactic plans to operate its initial flights from the Mojave base ahead of the projected opening of the New Mexico spaceport in late 2009 or early 2010.

Virgin Galactic also unveiled its logo — the pupil of an eye incorporating an eclipse.

Branson's iris will be used for the final design.

Branson is due to join New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in the United States on Wednesday to unveil the spaceport plans.

Virgin Galactic’s Disruptive Product Development Strategies

How Virgin Galactic imagined and realized the future of commercial spaceflight

Last week I looked at how a major upgrade or release of an existing product line like the Dreamliner can be a major drain on resources and attention and adversely affect competitive momentum. I warned against “over-innovation” because of the high risk of failures, loss of market share and customer confidence when companies focus on dramatic changes to their product lines.

However, new product development strategies sometimes favor “disruptive” innovation that dramatically alter the market or open up a whole new one. The key differences in the innovations that really disrupt and those that are “wannabe” or failures can be subtle and depend a lot on how the vision for the new product was set and executed upon.

To stay within the same “kick-ass aircraft” theme of the last few posts, I want to look at Virgin Galactic, the space aviation arm of Sir Richard Branson’s sprawling empire. There are some simple reasons for this selection: I have been a Branson fan for some time (see my article on his leadership lessons). I’m also an admirer of Virgin Atlantic, another high-flying business venture with many similarities, and in recent weeks, Virgin Galactic has made news with the dedication of the first spaceport (aptly named Spaceport America) in Nevada.

To cut the long story short, Virgin Galactic is a front-runner in commercial space tourism and space aviation, offering commercial “sub-orbital” spaceflight in particular. It has made a lot of advances to become the perceived leader of the space tourism industry because:

1. It has access to the most promising and “viable” space aviation technology out there, in the form of SpaceShipTwo. 2. It has benefited from an effective sales and marketing strategy, which saw it acquire an astounding 450 customers who are willing to deposit $200,000 for the flights, even years before the first flight ever takes off.

It is too early to say whether Virgin Galactic is going to be a runaway success, but there is plenty to admire about and learn from the way the company has pioneered and made an almost impossible product commercially viable. For example:

1. Plan to achieve near-impossible goals with long-term road maps: Virgin Galactic set a dramatic goal that is both inspirational and extremely far-fetched (shared by many other competing groups), but then defined a concrete road map to achieve it, even if it would take years. It is ironic that with the reduction in government-sponsored space funding, which resulted in the ending of the space shuttle program, Branson (with others) have gone against the grain and set the goal of making spaceflight available to private citizens.

2. Extend the power of the brand in new ways: Branson shrewdly blended the best practices he developed while building Virgin Atlantic (as the “hip” airline) as well as other consumer-oriented ventures to imbue the high-tech, high-cost product with a certain “sexiness” and accessibility. To see how well he does this, you just need to take a look at the the splashy presentation on the Virgin Galactic website, aas well as the recent dedication ceremony for Spaceport America.

3. Get the customers to pay for the development: With such a game-changing product offering, Branson took the calculated risk of getting paid before the product even became available. While this is not what conventional product development wisdom suggests, we have to give credit to Virgin Galactic’s ability to correctly gauge the overwhelming demand and make the product available before it actually exists.

4. Build powerful coalition to support the product out of the gate: Knowing that such a major product does not exist in a vacuum, Branson built a coalition of partners, ranging from local authorities and travel agencies over the period of several years. These partners are crucial in supporting Virgin Galactic achieve its goals without bankrupting itself.

But of course Richard Branson is not the only business leader with a knack for dramatic product introduction. We have seen many examples in other industries, such as:

• The Apple iPhone and the Mac Book Air were first unveiled as a premium product, with a dramatically improved experience, incredible quality, and that were awash in Apple’s trademark design sexiness. Both products blatantly defied conventional wisdom in both of their respective market segments, and in so doing, redefined what the terms smartphone and laptop really meant. • Before the Toyota Prius hybrid and Tesla Motors cars came about, others have tried and failed to develop commercially viable electric or hybrid gasoline-electric cars. Most famously, GM scrapped years of research and production when they decided to pull the EV1 cars from the market in the end of the last century. In contrast, Toyota mapped out a more realistic but no less ambitious program, by developing increasingly more advanced hybrid cars, starting with the Prius, to reach the same end goal of building a car with zero emissions. While Tesla Motors’ ultimate goal is undoubtedly general commercial availability of electric cars, like Virgin Galactic, it did not try to make the car at the cost affordable by everyone right away. Instead, for its first generation of cars, it offered the “premium” experience with the powerful all electric sport car Roadster, and got early adopters to effectively pay for its further developments.

LauncherOne: Virgin Galactic's other project

You are going to hear a lot in the next few weeks about Virgin Galactic, not least because on 7 December the company will unveil SpaceShipTwo in the Mojave Desert, California.

This is the rocket plane Sir Richard Branson will use to take fare-paying passengers on sub-orbital flights in the coming years.

In this posting, however, I want to concentrate on another Galactic project which is now gathering pace - the LauncherOne satellite system.

[pic]

Back in January, I reported on early discussions between the Branson outfit and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford.

SSTL is a world leader in the production of low-cost small satellites, and it was keen to explore the possibility of working with Virgin Galactic on a way to get these spacecraft into orbit much more cheaply than is currently possible.

The concept would be somewhat similar to the US Pegasus system, which uses a former airliner to lift a booster to 40,000ft, before releasing it to make its own way into space.

Virgin Galactic's aim is to provide an air-launched system which is faster, cheaper, and more flexible.

It would use SpaceShipTwo's mothership, "Eve", as the launch platform.

Dr Adam Baker, then at SSTL, was hoping for some money from the UK government to do a small feasibility study. The hope was that if things came together, LauncherOne could be a UK-built rocket despatched by Eve running out of a British airport somewhere.

Well, the money wasn't immediately forthcoming and Dr Baker has now moved across to Virgin Galactic to lead its own in-house efforts to give the project momentum.

So where are we? Dr Baker has been in post little more than a month. He's speaking to anyone and everyone, from those who might be interested in helping to build such a launcher to those who might want to use it to put a payload into orbit.

Certainly, there's a compelling need for a cheaper, more flexible launch system for small satellites.

At the moment, companies like SSTL are in a less than satisfactory position.

They often have to wait on the availability of converted Soviet-era missiles, such as Dnepr. This can add months to the timeline of a project.

Sometimes, the launches can get bumped by "more urgent" Russian military payloads, or have to wait while a problem on a satellite co-passenger is resolved (small satellites on a Dnepr are launched in batches).

The issue for LauncherOne, of course, is cost.

At the moment, a small satellite wanting to get into space may have to pay something like $5m-$10m. Virgin Galactic really has to get that down to $1m-$2m for this venture to make financial sense.

And to make that happen, Dr Baker believes the development cost of the rocket to first flight also needs to be kept the right side $100m:

"The less we can spend developing this, the easier it is going to be to recoup the cost, and the lower the launch price can be. "Historically, rockets that have been developed from scratch have cost a lot more than $100m. We want to take as much advantage from all the previous 50 years of effort in designing launch vehicles to get the best from the market."

The British imperative is still there. If this vehicle can come out of the UK, so much the better, says Dr Baker. He'd love nothing better than for LauncherOne to be a UK-led initiative. But Virgin will not be overly sentimental about this. It's a business.

Interestingly, feasibility studies have been done in this field before in the UK, including on the possibility of using a Vulcan bomber as the platform for an air-launched satellite service. At least one small assessment has found the economics don't stack up.

Perhaps Virgin Galactic and British industry can show otherwise.

Who'd have thought before Brian Binnie and Mike Melville made their historic flights in SpaceShipOne that trips on a civil spaceliner would soon be possible?

Watch this space.

You are going to hear a lot in the next few weeks about Virgin Galactic, not least because on 7 December the company will unveil SpaceShipTwo in the Mojave Desert, California.

This is the rocket plane Sir Richard Branson will use to take fare-paying passengers on sub-orbital flights in the coming years.

In this posting, however, I want to concentrate on another Galactic project which is now gathering pace - the LauncherOne satellite system.

[pic]

Back in January, I reported on early discussions between the Branson outfit and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford.

SSTL is a world leader in the production of low-cost small satellites, and it was keen to explore the possibility of working with Virgin Galactic on a way to get these spacecraft into orbit much more cheaply than is currently possible.

The concept would be somewhat similar to the US Pegasus system, which uses a former airliner to lift a booster to 40,000ft, before releasing it to make its own way into space.

Virgin Galactic's aim is to provide an air-launched system which is faster, cheaper, and more flexible.

It would use SpaceShipTwo's mothership, "Eve", as the launch platform.

Dr Adam Baker, then at SSTL, was hoping for some money from the UK government to do a small feasibility study. The hope was that if things came together, LauncherOne could be a UK-built rocket despatched by Eve running out of a British airport somewhere.

Well, the money wasn't immediately forthcoming and Dr Baker has now moved across to Virgin Galactic to lead its own in-house efforts to give the project momentum.

So where are we? Dr Baker has been in post little more than a month. He's speaking to anyone and everyone, from those who might be interested in helping to build such a launcher to those who might want to use it to put a payload into orbit.

Certainly, there's a compelling need for a cheaper, more flexible launch system for small satellites.

At the moment, companies like SSTL are in a less than satisfactory position.

They often have to wait on the availability of converted Soviet-era missiles, such as Dnepr. This can add months to the timeline of a project.

Sometimes, the launches can get bumped by "more urgent" Russian military payloads, or have to wait while a problem on a satellite co-passenger is resolved (small satellites on a Dnepr are launched in batches).

The issue for LauncherOne, of course, is cost.

At the moment, a small satellite wanting to get into space may have to pay something like $5m-$10m. Virgin Galactic really has to get that down to $1m-$2m for this venture to make financial sense.

And to make that happen, Dr Baker believes the development cost of the rocket to first flight also needs to be kept the right side $100m:

"The less we can spend developing this, the easier it is going to be to recoup the cost, and the lower the launch price can be. "Historically, rockets that have been developed from scratch have cost a lot more than $100m. We want to take as much advantage from all the previous 50 years of effort in designing launch vehicles to get the best from the market."

The British imperative is still there. If this vehicle can come out of the UK, so much the better, says Dr Baker. He'd love nothing better than for LauncherOne to be a UK-led initiative. But Virgin will not be overly sentimental about this. It's a business.

Interestingly, feasibility studies have been done in this field before in the UK, including on the possibility of using a Vulcan bomber as the platform for an air-launched satellite service. At least one small assessment has found the economics don't stack up.

Perhaps Virgin Galactic and British industry can show otherwise.

Who'd have thought before Brian Binnie and Mike Melville made their historic flights in SpaceShipOne that trips on a civil spaceliner would soon be possible?

Watch this space.

Virgin looks beyond space tourism

For most of the general public, not to mention many people within the space industry itself, suborbital spaceflight has become synonymous with a single market, space tourism. There are any number of other markets that the new generation of suborbital vehicles under development could serve, from microgravity science to remote sensing to astronaut training, but those are largely lost in the shadow cast by tourism. This lack of attention isn’t surprising, given the popular interest in personal spaceflight and the potentially large size of that market.

Similarly, the one company arguably most closely associated with suborbital spaceflight and space tourism is Virgin Galactic. The combination of Virgin’s financial resources, its marketing prowess, and its association with the technical expertise and experience of Scaled Composites, has put the company at the forefront of this emerging field. However, as Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn explained during a speech Friday at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Crystal City, Virginia, the company is interested in markets beyond space tourism as well—thanks, ironically, to its efforts to best serve the space tourism market.

Saved by its customers

As Whitehorn explained in his speech, Virgin Galactic’s original plan back in 2004 was effectively to develop a commercial version of SpaceShipOne that would have entered service as early as 2008. That was the preference of the Virgin Group’s board, who was making the investment in Virgin Galactic, he said.

However, the company reconsidered those plans after talking with Virgin Galactic’s first customers. “The early customers came in and said, ‘If we’re going to pay $200,000 to fly to space, we are not getting into a cramped little environment with no more space than a MiG,’” Whitehorn recalled. “‘If we’re going to pay you $200,000, we want to do what they do in the movies… I want to experience weightlessness, I want to move around the cabin.’”

The problem with the SpaceShipOne design was that its cabin was too small to allow the three people it accommodated to move around much in weightlessness. That feedback was like “manna from heaven” for the Virgin and Scaled teams, Whitehorn said, since it forced them to move directly ahead to a much larger spacecraft that would have sufficient volume to enable people to move around, and thus also a larger aircraft—something that they had wanted to do all along but not as soon as originally foreseen.

Scaling up to a larger vehicle allows Virgin to address markets beyond space tourism, Whitehorn said, with four in particular of interest to the company. The first is suborbital scientific research, ranging from atmospheric and space sciences to microgravity experimentation. A market study performed for Virgin by an outside group found that there is over $300 million a year in NASA funding alone dedicated to sounding rocket research, space life sciences work, education, and aeronautics that could be addressed by SpaceShipTwo (SS2).

Virgin has already made a small step into that market with an agreement announced last fall with NOAA to carry atmospheric sensors on the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft as well as SpaceShipTwo; some of that data will be used to help calibrate NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory spacecraft slated for launch later this month. That agreement is under a no exchange of funds basis, but he said that the agreement itself helps burnish the company’s scientific credentials for other customers.

Two other markets the company is looking at with the WK2/SS2 combination are astronaut training and technology testing and demonstration. The astronaut training, Whitehorn said, could be done using either WK2 or SS2: in addition to flying parabolic arcs to provide brief periods of microgravity, the aircraft can also create up to 6 Gs of acceleration to simulate the forces or launch and reentry. “That’s a supremely interesting capability, and we believe there will be a market for it,” he said.

The last, and perhaps most intriguing, market Virgin is examining is low-cost launches of small satellites. In this scenario WK2 would carry aloft not SS2 but an expendable booster of some undetermined design capable of placing up to 200 kilograms into low Earth orbit. Virgin is working with the company widely considered to be the leader in the smallsat industry, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), to study the viability of this market. (Ironically, SSTL was acquired last year by EADS Astrium, a company that has announced plans to develop its own suborbital spaceplane.)

The goal of this effort would be to develop a system that could launch smallsats for no more than $2 million, with the flexibility to launch from almost any location, and to go from contract to launch in a matter of weeks. One complicating factor is that Virgin doesn’t have any money now to spend on development on the expendable booster. “I work for a very visionary organization, and they are funding us through one of the most difficult economic periods in history to get WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo finished,” Whitehorn said. “But if I went to ask them for the money to build a smallsat launcher at the same time, I know what the answer would be, so I haven’t been to ask them.”

He added, though, that there are a number of existing launch vehicles that could be readily adapted to launch from WK2. Virgin is in “early-stage” discussions with a number of vehicle developers in this area, he said, as well as working with SSTL to study the smallsat market.

Whitehorn’s point was that none of these additional markets beyond space tourism would have been enabled had Virgin stuck with its original plans for a SpaceShipOne-sized vehicle. “If we just rebuilt WhiteKnightOne and rebuilt SpaceShipOne, we would have basically been restricted to space tourism for a period of time until we then could have developed a second model,” he said. “Luckily we were saved by the early customers.”

Sizing up the competition

Late in his speech Whitehorn took a few minutes to compare Virgin Galactic with a number of other ventures in this market, particularly in their ability to serve markets beyond space tourism. “We went for what we went for because of the flexibility we could see in the first stage air launch,” he explained. “That doesn’t mean to say that other systems won’t have a relevance eventually to space tourism” but, he believes, would not be well-suited to access other markets.

For example, he said that Virgin looked at spaceplanes like those proposed by Astrium and Rocketplane Global that take off under jet power and later light a rocket engine to fly to space, but didn’t “intrinsically like” it because of the jet engines and reentry profile. “It could work,” he said, “but the problem is that it’s just for space tourism. I couldn’t see other applications for these kinds of technologies.”

As for XCOR’s Lynx Rocketplane, Whitehorn had a similar assessment: feasible, but limiting. “I think these guys can make this work, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “But for us, it doesn’t do the job that we want it to do… It’s not much good for anything else but tourism.”

He was more dismissive of other ventures, including Armadillo Aerospace’s vertical takeoff and landing design unveiled last year, where two people fly inside a large clear bubble. “If goldfish want to go to space, it’s spot on,” he quipped. He also wasn’t keen about a more obscure company, Copenhagen Suborbitals, which has proposed a small rocket with just enough room for a single passenger. “It doesn’t do the job for the customer too well, since you’re not going to experience a lot of weightlessness.”

Those assessments were no doubt controversial, particularly since some of these companies are indeed going after markets like suborbital science and technology demonstration. (Indeed, an executive with one of those companies was seen having a spirited conversation with Whitehorn after his speech.) It also excludes companies like Masten Space Systems and TGV Rockets that are largely ignoring space tourism in favor of science and other markets.

Current status and future plans

Whitehorn’s speech came just one day after WK2 flew its second test flight from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. He said that he and Richard Branson “got a very excited email from Burt [Rutan]” after the flight, which Whitehorn said was “flawless”. Another Virgin Galactic official, Enrico Palermo, said during a panel session later Friday at the conference that the aircraft flew to an altitude of about 5,500 meters (18,000 feet) during the hour-and-a-half flight, reaching speeds of 240 km/h (130 knots).

While WK2 continues its series of test flights, work on SS2 continues. Whitehorn said that the spacecraft is now “just under” 80 percent complete, and is on track to begin glide tests by the end of this year. He did not specify any other schedule milestones for the program, including when WK2 and SS2 would enter commercial service.

While Virgin examines these other markets, the company is continuing to build its customer base for its space tourism flights. Whitehorn said that the company has nearly 300 customers now and $39 million in customer deposits. Despite the current economic crisis, he said they continue to sign up customers, including two earlier that week. A few customers have asked for their deposits back, including one person who lost all his money in the Bernard Madoff scandal. “He could say to us that actually we were one of only investments he’d made that hadn’t gone bad” because he was able to recover his $200,000, Whitehorn said.

That space tourism market, he said, forms the core of a “serious investment opportunity” for Virgin. “We don’t need, to make money out of the system, to do anything but the tourism part,” he said. However, in addition to the science and training markets the company is interested in, Whitehorn sees possibilities in launch and other alternative WK2 payloads, as well as patented intellectual property in the system. “The rest is going to be the bonus,” he said.

Whitehorn said that once WK2 and SS2 enter service, the system could potentially be profitable in its first year, and soon thereafter even become a publicly-traded company. “It’s quite clear that, obviously subject to market conditions in a couple of years’ time, we’d be able to IPO this business potentially.” He added that they were now open to considering “relevant external investment” provided those opportunities offer industrial partnerships or other synergies.

Those additional markets and the revenue they generate would, in turn, lead to the development of a WhiteKnightThree and SpaceShipThree, although exactly what form those vehicles would take isn’t yet known. “We’re not planning a WhiteKnightThree, we’re not planning a SpaceShipThree,” Whitehorn said. “But I work for Virgin. If WhiteKnightTwo works, and SpaceShipTwo works, and we make a commercial success with it, I’m pretty sure there will be a WhiteKnightThree and a SpaceShipThree.”

Virgin Galactic, valued at $900 million, gets $280 million private investor

In what is more like a "mega-angel" investor than what would be considered the normal process of raising rounds of private finance Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group has managed to sell effectively a third of Virgin Galactic. At the Royal Aeronautical Society Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn spoke of his confidence of SpaceShip Two flying in the Middle East and of obtaining private finance in the next 12-months. Now we know why. Find the press release below and in the extended portion of this blog post

|Oshkosh/Abu Dhabi, 28th July 2009: Abu Dhabi 's Aabar Investments and Virgin Group today announced that they have agreed to enter a |
|strategic partnership, which will see Aabar take an equity stake in the world's first commercial spaceline - Virgin Galactic. To date, |
|Virgin Galactic has been wholly owned and funded by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. |
| |
|The deal, signed today at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin attended by Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, and |
|Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny, CEO of Aabar. The signing ceremony is taking place alongside Virgin Galactic's new carrier space launch |
|vehicle, WhiteKnightTwo (VMS Eve) which is making its public demonstration flying debut in Oshkosh. |
| |
|Under the deal, Aabar will invest approximately US$280m and take around a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic's holding company, valuing the |
|business at about $900m. The transaction is subject to obtaining regulatory clearances in the United States and elsewhere. Additionally, |
|Aabar has committed $100m (plus transaction cost) to fund a small satellite launch capability, subject to the development of a full |
|business plan. It will also gain exclusive regional rights, subject to regulatory clearances, to host Virgin Galactic tourism and |
|scientific research space flights. Finally, Aabar has plans to build spaceport facilities in Abu Dhabi. |
|Commenting on the acquisition, HE Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Aabar, said, "I am pleased to announce this partnership. Virgin Galactic |
|is the leader in the realm of space tourism, having successfully established a potential global market for its offering in a very short |
|span of time. Aabar's stake in Virgin Galactic will open a new avenue of opportunity for Abu Dhabi in this unique and dynamic business. |
|The significant partnership not only falls in line with Abu Dhabi's larger plans to inculcate technology research and science at a |
|grassroots level but also complements its aim to be the international tourism capital of the region." |
| |
|Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of developing and testing commercial sub-orbital space vehicles based on the prototype |
|SpaceShipOne, that flew successfully to space and back three times in 2004. The unique and innovative designs of the vehicles will |
|transform the cost, safety and environmental impact of access to space for people, science research and education. |
| |
|Sir Richard Branson said, "We are delighted to partner with Aabar in a strategic deal that is a first for Virgin Galactic. The initiative |
|will leverage the solid financial backing of Aabar and the pioneering technology and strong global relationships of Virgin Galactic. This |
|exciting deal is indicative of the interesting and high value investments that mark the UAE's commercial portfolio." |
| |
|The new joint venture also proposes to undertake additional development which would enable the space system to launch small satellites at |
|unprecedented levels of cost, reliability and flexibility. |
| |
|"This transaction carries multiple potential for the creation of an exceptional platform for space infrastructure such as research labs, |
|space centre for commercial travel and much more," said Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny. |
| |
|Virgin Group has invested over $100m in Virgin Galactic since its formation in late 2004. The development of its new vehicles is being |
|carried out by Scaled Composites, the renowned Mojave CA based aeronautical firm, owned by Northrop Grumman and led by Burt Rutan. |
| |
|Scaled Composites was responsible for designing and building SpaceShipOne which won the $10m X Prize in 2004 as the first privately funded|
|manned space vehicle. The system is highly innovative: it utilises a carrier aircraft for launch of the spaceship at high altitude, a |
|controllable and benign hybrid rocket motor and a unique wing feathering design for a failsafe re-entry. The spaceship makes a runway |
|landing rendering it almost entirely reusable. |
| |
|The new commercial vehicles are now at an advanced stage of development. VMS Eve, VG's new carrier aircraft is well into its test flight |
|programme and is performing flawlessly. It is the world's largest all carbon composite aircraft and has a unique high altitude, heavy lift|
|capability. Sir Richard Branson is due to be onboard VMS Eve as a member of the crew for a demonstration flight during EAA AirVenture at |
|Oshkosh on Tuesday 28th July. |
| |
|The new spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo will commence its own test flight programme before the end of 2009. Both vehicles offer a unique |
|environment for space tourism and a wide range of science research applications as well as a platform for small satellite launch. |
| |
|Patrick McCall, the Virgin Group Commercial Director responsible for the transaction said, "We are building a great partnership for the |
|development of the world's first private sector integrated human and payload space launch system. All of us at Virgin Galactic are very |
|much looking forward to working with Aabar's Chairman, HE Khadem Al Qubaisi, its CEO Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny and the whole Aabar team |
|as we move forward together at the cutting edge of the coming industrial revolution in space access . I would also like to take this |
|opportunity to thank Brandt Mowry, the senior vice-president of corporate development who managed the transaction on behalf of Virgin |
|Group." |
| |
|Virgin Galactic expects the capital infusion to fully fund the company through to its commencement of commercial operations. |
| |
|Credit Suisse acted as the exclusive financial advisor and placement agent to Virgin Galactic regarding the transaction. |

Did you know that the fuel efficiency of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft is 60% greater than a commercial airplane? Or that the cost of launching traditional spacecraft into space is eye-wateringly expensive and uses an incredible amount of energy? The thinking that has gone into the technology to enable Virgin Galactic to be a viable business proposition is revealed in the talk that Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic, gave at Start’s London offices earlier this month. The video reveals the answers to the questions above and gives some fascinating insights into the whole project. Will’s talk is the first in a series entitled Start Talk Tuesdays, where clients, prospective clients and friends of Start are treated to some mental stimulation for an hour or so. We then turn it into a 5 minute video, so that people who weren’t able to make it, can still see the best bits.
Next up we have the retail design guru and ex-boss of Mike Curtis and Darren Whittingham, Rodney Fitch. Enjoy.

Virgin Galactic To Build Luxury Hotel Near Spaceport America

We have read plenty about Virgin Galactic’s plans for space travel. Now we hear that the company is going all out to promote this as a luxury business. And in order to do that, they have decided to build a luxury hotel near Spaceport America. It is not a bad idea, considering that it will cost upwards of $200,000 for a ticket to outer space. However, residents in the Truth and Consequences area are not pleased by the new development.

Part of the reason is that residents of Truth and Consequences have been paying taxes to support the upcoming spaceport. They now fear that if a luxury hotel comes up, their own businesses will suffer, and the extra taxes that they shelled out would go down the drain. However, Julia Tizard, operations manager for Virgin Galactic, believes that a high-end hotel is necessary. The spaceflights are scheduled to start from 2013. According to Tizard, 420 people have already reserved their seats, and they would require more luxury amenities than currently available in the area. So far, all that is known about the hotel is that it will be near the spaceport, which stands between Truth and Consequences and Las Cruces.

Residents claim that tourists love the quaint lodgings near the springs. They are complaining about the upcoming hotel eating into their business. But ex-spaceport board member Kent Evans disagrees. He admits that the area has several great properties to put up in, but these would not suit the needs of people who are able and willing to shell out upwards of $200,000 for a single seat on a spaceflight.

Via: PressofAtlanticCity.com
[pic]

We have read plenty about Virgin Galactic’s plans for space travel. Now we hear that the company is going all out to promote this as a luxury business. And in order to do that, they have decided to build a luxury hotel near Spaceport America. It is not a bad idea, considering that it will cost upwards of $200,000 for a ticket to outer space. However, residents in the Truth and Consequences area are not pleased by the new development.

Part of the reason is that residents of Truth and Consequences have been paying taxes to support the upcoming spaceport. They now fear that if a luxury hotel comes up, their own businesses will suffer, and the extra taxes that they shelled out would go down the drain. However, Julia Tizard, operations manager for Virgin Galactic, believes that a high-end hotel is necessary. The spaceflights are scheduled to start from 2013. According to Tizard, 420 people have already reserved their seats, and they would require more luxury amenities than currently available in the area. So far, all that is known about the hotel is that it will be near the spaceport, which stands between Truth and Consequences and Las Cruces.

Residents claim that tourists love the quaint lodgings near the springs. They are complaining about the upcoming hotel eating into their business. But ex-spaceport board member Kent Evans disagrees. He admits that the area has several great properties to put up in, but these would not suit the needs of people who are able and willing to shell out upwards of $200,000 for a single seat on a spaceflight.

Via: PressofAtlanticCity.com
[pic]

MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) - Virgin Galactic is seeking people with the right stuff. The Antelope Valley Press in California says the spaceline founded by Sir Richard Branson has put out a call for pilots to operate its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft and WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. Those selected would fly during development testing currently under way and commercial operations at some point in the future.

The company is looking for test pilots who graduated from a respectable flight school and who have a minimum of 3,000 hours of flying experience. Prior spaceflight experience is a plus, but not required. Virgin Galactic plans to fly tourists on brief suborbital flights at a cost of $200,000 per person. SpaceShipTwo is based on the design of SpaceShipOne, the first private manned craft to reach space. --- Information from: Antelope Valley Press

Commercial space travel: Who's competing against Richard Branson?

As Virgin boss unveils his commercial space 'plane', SpaceShipTwo, to the world, we look at the other companies that are working hard to get a piece of the space tourism pie.

While Virgin Galactic may be the first company to officially enter the market, the Russian Space Agency has been offering flights into space for a number years. For a mere USD$20-35 million, the rich and powerful have been able to buy a seat aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).

Organised by Space Adventures, who are currently the the only space tourism company providing human space mission in the world marketplace, the likes of American businessman Dennis Tito, South African business man Mark Shuttleworth and five other privileged individuals have had the opportunity to go into space.

Whilst Branson's tickets will be cheaper, $200,000 per seat, it shows the large amount of money that can be made in space tourism. As a number of companies have sprung up in recent years, hoping to create a space tourism industry, but can they compete with Virgin Galactic?

[pic]

[pic]Company: Blue Origin

Space vehicle: New Shepard

Potential for success: Set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin is a privately funded aerospace company. Their prototype of the New Shepard has been undergoing test flights since 2006, how the construction of a second test vehicle was in progress and that a third development vehicle would be built after that before any commercial flights would begin.

They will enter the market behind Virgin Galactic, with their current timetables stating that unmanned flights will commence in 2011, whilst manned ones will start a year later.

http://www.blueorigin.com/

[pic]

[pic]Company: EADS Astrium

Space vehicle: Unnamed sub-orbital hybrid

Potential for success: Part of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), EADS Astrium announced that it would be entering the space tourism sector in 2007. Using a one-stage sub-orbital hybrid craft, utilising both jet and rocket engines, their 'space jet' would be able to take up to four passengers from regular airports using conventional jet engines, using rockets to get to a altitude of 100km.

Tickets were expected to cost just less than USD$300,000 with flights beginning in 2012, however in January 2009, the company announced the program had been put on hold indefinitely.

http://www.astrium.eads.net/en/homepage

[pic]

[pic]Company: Excalibur Almaz

Space vehicle: TKS

Potential for success: Using modernized TKS space capsules and Almaz space stations, Excalibur Almaz is adapting technology from the former secret Soviet space program to enter the space tourism market. The TKS space capsules are capable of carrying three passengers and have the benefit of being reusable for up to 100 times.

The company hopes to begin flights by 2012 or 2013. In a cramped capsule, this could be the perfect mission for those craving the feel of the Space Race in the 1960s, rather than the comfort of a Virgin Galactic flight. However, unlike Virgin's flights that last two hours, Excalibur Almaz's flights last up to a week.

http://excaliburalmaz.com/SP1/index.php

[pic]

[pic]Company: SpaceDev

Space vehicle: Dream Chaser

Potential for success: Based in California, SpaceDev is a space flight and micro-satellite company that is now aiming to "make routine commercial spaceflight possible and to help open space for all of humanity."

In 2005, the company announced the Dream Chaser project - a four passenger sub-orbital and a six passenger orbital vehicle - based on NASA's HL-20 "Personnel Launch System" or "Space Taxi".

In 2007, the company said it had finalized a Memorandum of Understanding with United Launch Alliance on exploring the potential of launching the Dream Chaser using a Atlas V 431 configuration. Destinations could include the ISS and other commercial orbital destinations as well as for commercial orbital space tourism flights. The Benson Space Company had shown interest in purchasing three of the craft, but have since cancelled their order placing the Dream Chaser in limbo.

http://www.spacedev.com/

[pic]

[pic]Company: XCOR Aerospace

Space vehicle: The Lynx

Potential for success: Based in Mojave, California XCOR Aerospace have been working on a number of 'rocket planes' for a several years. Their latest design, the Lynx, is designed to be a reusable craft, capable of several flights a day. Designed to hold a pilot and one passenger, the Lynx can reach altitudes of 60km at a cost of $95,000.

The Lynx is planning to roll out its first flights in 2010 from the Mojave Air and Spaceport, and could be a potential rival to Virgin Galactic. XCOR's next plane, the Mark 2, is expected to have a maximum height of 110km

http://www.xcor.com/

[pic]

So, while Virgin Galactic may get up to space first, it won't be up there for long especially with the likes of the European Space Agency also looking to space tourism. Recognising the potential, the ESA have begun looking into designing a reusable orbital transport, such as the LAPCAT or other space-liners.

At his press conference yesterday, Branson said that "only 450 people have ever been into space; that's including all the Russians, all the Chinese and all the Americans put together." That number looks set to change very shortly.

Virgin Galactic vs. XCOR: Two Very Different Approaches

Virgin Galactic’s Will Pomerantz and XCOR Aerospace’s Khaki McKee both gave updates on their companies’ suborbital vehicles during the recent Houston SpaceUp conference. For the benefit of those who don’t have time to watch the full video above, I’ve summarized their presentations below in a convenient side-by-side table to allow for an easy comparison.

|[pic] | [pic] |
|Virgin Galactic |XCOR Aerospace |
|Will Pomerantz |Khaki McKee |
|SpaceShipTwo |Lynx |
|6 Passengers, 2 Crew |1 passenger, 1 pilot |
|$200,000 per seat |$95,000 per seat |
|PROGRAM STATUS |PROGRAM STATUS |
|Spaceship Two – 27 flights on WhiteKnightTwo – 15 free flights – 2 feather |Beginning fabrication of Lynx Mark I |
|tests |Cockpit pressure vessel – Sending out bids for fabrication of cockpit |
|Testing RocketMotorTwo separately |pressure vessel and fuselage |
|Six engine tests done at full power but none at full duration |Engine testing once every week sometimes once every two weeks – routine |
|Engine will fire for a little more than 1 minute |Test firing thrusters every day |
|Showed picture of rocket test firing |Showed video of rocket test firing |
|450 deposits – $57 to $58 million in deposits |Fuel pump has been tested to full Lynx power – flight capable |
| |Wet leases with South Korea, Curacao to operate Lynx Mark II |
|DEVELOPMENT |DEVELOPMENT |
|The Spaceship Company is building WKTwos and SSTwos |Lynx Mark I flight tests by Fall 2012 |
|TSC is hiring in a major way |Lynx Mark I will fly to 61 km |
|20 employees at beginning of year to 70 now to 115 by end of year to 150 this |Lynx Mark II will fly to 100 km (conservatively) |
|time next year |Lynx Mark II will be the same size but have a higher performance |
|DESIGN APPROACH |DESIGN APPROACH |
|8-person SpaceShipTwo is based on smaller 3-person SpaceShipOne prototype built |Low cost, low maintenance and fast turnaround |
|for only $25 million |All fully reusable and low-touch labor |
|SSOne cut a number of corners because it had to win the prize by the end of the |Up to 4 flights per day |
|year |Two-hour turnaround between flights |
|Scaled up design to meet requirements of wealthy clients to float around |Rapid callup of 4-hours |
|Hybrid engine composed of rubber and laughing gas (nitrous oxide) |Uses FAA air traffic control system |
|Branson is an ambitious guy – if we do suborbital today, we should be doing point|Fuel pumps will have about 5000 flights before they expire |
|to point tomorrow and orbital the day after. We try to convince him that its not |Non-toxic propellants – nothing you couldn’t spill on the floor |
|so simple as that. |4 regenerative cooled LOX-kerosene engines |
| |NonBurnite – proprietary technology that will be used for LOX tank in Lynx |
| |Mark II – NASA contract to look manufacturing process |

Vacations in space and time
Forty years ago it was “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Now it is a small step for anyone who dares.
For the last four decades, space flight has been neglected as a primary conduit to human evolution. Popular opinion sees space flight as a sidebar to human development. Even NASA, with their use of aging, decrepit and obsolete shuttles, appears to believe the same. But fear not, for our savior has arrived in the form of a virgin. Well, the Virgin Galactic program that is. Virgin has taken the initiative in commercializing space
Image courtesy of virgin galactic, design by sky 26 travel as a luxury for those who can afford it
[pic]
The dream of everyday space flight has been around a long time. But, while science fiction has been escalating in the last decade with advanced computer-generated graphics, society has largely forgotten actual space exploration. In the mid-20th century, the United States and the former Soviet Union were feverishly involved in pushing space exploration. It seemed that, like in Star Trek, space exploration was best executed by the government.
In the 1980s, NASA began to launch shuttles that took off from and landed on Earth more than once. These shuttles cut down on the cost of development. The down side of the shuttle, however, was they offered no progression. The need to develop new models was minimal.
Since then, however, the idea of international cooperation has inspired multiple governments to join together and build the International Space Station. Bent on scientific discovery rather than territorial expansion, the station has ended much of the exploration being done by governments. The weight of exploration is now left to the private sector. With little room being left on Earth to expand empires, corporations like Virgin have seized the opportunity to expand their market into space. It offers free expansion as no one currently owns space.
Further initiative came from the Ansari X prize. It inspired innovators and dreamers to build the first commercial sub-orbital space craft. Many competitors strove to reach the goal and win the prize: $10 million. It was a company named Scaled Composites, founded by Burt Rutan, that eventually designed the winner. Named SpaceShipOne, it flew at an altitude of more than 100 kilometres. The design of SpaceShipOne is simple and efficient, which makes it significantly less expensive than NASA’s fuel-guzzling shuttles.
SpaceShipOne uses a form of biofuel. The fuel is practical enough to allow the ship to reach sub-orbit, but requires less than half of what a normal shuttle does. To achieve optimal efficiency, Scaled Composites attached the SpaceShipOne to WhiteKnightOne, an aircraft. Instead of launching from the ground, ShipShipOne launches after becoming airborne. This technique allows for even more efficiency.
The ship’s efficiency was what drew Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson. The company was inspired to begin its own attempts at building a commercially viable passenger space craft. Based on the SpaceShipOne’s design, SpaceShipTwo has become Virgin Galactic’s platform for allowing private citizens to visit space.
“It was Stephen Hawking who first got me thinking about this issue when he explained clearly and concisely to the BBC that mankind had no option but to get to space as quickly as possible and start doing things up there that we have been doing on planet Earth, but in a much more efficient manner,” Branson said at SpaceShipTwo’s unveiling.
Branson seemed sincere when he said that space flight is essential to human development. Without prospects of commercial success, however, Virgin Galactic would be unable to justify their investment to stockholders.
That profit requirement means a ticket to space does not come cheap. Current pricing places the cost of a ticket at $200,000 US a seat. The ticket will buy tourists a several minute journey at sub-orbital altitudes.
Though the initial price of a ticket will prove far out of reach for most consumers, it is expected to incrementally decrease as the program continues to pick up speed. After a few years and a few hundred people, the price of a ticket will most likely go down to $20,000 US a piece.
There are others, however, who are finding a way around paying the hefty fee. A British businessman was able to exchange two million Air Miles points for a ticket aboard one of the first flights. However, for the majority of people, $20,000 is far too expensive, even if it is to witness something as spectacular as seeing planet Earth from space.
Yet Branson sees this as just the beginning of better things to come for the industry.
“With the end of the oil era approaching and climate change progressing faster than most models have been predicting, the utilization of space is essential not only for communications but also for the logistics of survival through things such as weather satellites, agricultural monitoring, GPS and climate science.”
Not only would space be a reasonable way to guarantee survival of the species, it would also guarantee optimal profit should Virgin Galactic hold a monopoly on commercial space flight. However, without a profit, there would be no motivation for space tourism in the first place.
Several companies, such as Rocketplane Limited, Space Adventures and EADS Astrium, have announced their intention to be commercial spaceflight agencies. There is no doubt that in the future, spaceflight will become a standard of travel.
For Virgin Galactic, however, tourism is just the beginning. The company will most likely expand from tourism to a more lucrative industry like transportation from one side of the Earth to the other. Instead of taking a day to travel to Japan, a spaceship capable of holding up to 100 passengers could cut that time significantly.
The advantages of commercial space flight are numerous. Its ability to push innovation is already taking the place of NASA. Government will always play a role to some degree, but ventures such as asteroid mining, solar energy collectors and colonization will be ideal for corporations to invest their time and money into because of the potential for maximum profit.
Although governments could plan and build environments on other planets to house humans, it would be capitalism that forces the economy and infrastructure. What drives people to exotic places is not just a sense of adventure but, like with any new frontier, the possibility of discovering a better life with better job opportunities. Those jobs will be provided by companies like Virgin.
Relatively speaking, there are still more than enough complications prolonging spaceflight developments. While interplanetary exploration is accepted as a future prospect for mankind, interstellar spaceflight is a bit more complicated with the vast gaps between stars. It would currently take centuries to get to the nearest star systems using the most powerful propulsion methods currently available. Though most of us will not be able to see the interstellar steps, we will be alive to see the first true steps of space exploration. http://www.virgingalactic.com/assets/downloads/Virgin_Galactic_Brochure.pdf Virgin Galactic to launch space travel brand designs

Richard Branson is to unveil the official branding and marketing plans of his space-travel project Virgin Galactic, next month in New York.
The event, taking place on January 23 at the American Museum of Natural History, will see designs for the spacecraft White Knight II and SpaceShip Two revealed, along with a new logo.
Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, says/ “We will be unveiling the entire design and structure of the project, and it looks nothing like what we’ve had before.”
He says the new branding and livery for the craft will be revealed: “The eye will remain, but it will have new branding around it and a new colour scheme.”
Whitehorn adds that new aspects of the project will be revealed in January - including the use of the planes to launch low-level satellites and how the research so far can benefit other airlines.
He also said that Virgin Galactic would be announcing aspects of its marketing plans, including deals with broadcasters, although he would not reveal the details.
The project’s new aircraft are 70% ready, says Whitehorn, and test flights will commence in the Mojave desert in the summer of 2008. If they are successful, tests in space will begin in 2009 and the first commercial passengers could fly into space by the end of 2010.

Welcome to VirginGalactic.org

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Virgin Galactic is a company within Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, which plans to offer sub-orbital spaceflights and, in the future, orbital spaceflights to the paying public.

Virgin Galactic's mission is to fly passengers who are not professional astronauts to an altitude slightly over 100 kilometers (62 mi) and allow them to experience weightlessness for up to 6 minutes. Each seat will be sold for US$200,000.According to Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn, the company had sold nearly 200 seats as of November 2007. The first flight is planned for 2009.

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Sales are rocketing at Virgin Galactic

Few companies can boast revenues worth tens of millions of dollars before actually delivering the "ultimate experience" promised - but that is what Virgin Galactic has achieved with its sales pitch that fulfils the dreams of the Apollo generation's wealthier members to carry them beyond the Earth.

In New York at the 23 January unveiling of Virgin Galactic's launch system, these customers saw pictures of the prototype SpaceShipTwo (SS2) that would carry them into the heavens, and its carrier aircraft, the White Knight II (WK2).

That tantalising dream of travelling above the 100km (62 mile) boundary separating the Earth from space has seen 250 customers, mostly in their forties and fifties, sign up for a trip through direct contact and a new network of 90 agents worldwide, generating $35 million in full ticket purchases and deposits, all of which is held in escrow.

Unsurprisingly, the sales and marketing arm of Sir Richard Branson's suborbital tourism venture, London based-Virgin Galactic Ltd, has shown an after-tax profit of £136,400 ($274,800), in the first publicly available financial accounts since the project's launch in 2004 and the UK company's establishment in June 2006.

But is Virgin's vision of personal spaceflight going to pay for its development costs and turn a profit? According to its 2006 suborbital and space tourism market study, US consultancy Futron concludes that a suborbital services business could, in its first year of operation, expect an annual demand of 1,000 people at a seat price of $200,000.

The Virgin's venture's economics had been the subject of a feasibility study carried out by Scaled Composites after the 4 October 2004 SpaceShipOne flight that saw its financier, Microsoft founder Paul Allen, win the $10 million Ansari X prize. The Scaled study led to a proposal for the Virgin group's investment committee, which was subsequently approved.

At the Royal Aeronautical Society on 27 September 2004 Branson and his partner in the space venture, Scaled president Burt Rutan, announced their plans that predicted the first suborbital commercial flights early in 2007 and a development cost for the Virgin group of $100 million.

These days the talk is of a first commercial flight in 2010 and a total cost for the project of around $250 million. SS2 and WK2 development costs have increased to $120 million, with $80 million of that spent, and there are a further $150 million expected costs for the fleet's manufacture, the ground-segments procurement and the operations implementation at its yet-to-be built headquarters, New Mexico's Spaceport America.

"This is high-risk capital because no one has ever done this before. This is the largest investment we have ever made," says Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn.

Funded by the Virgin Group, which operates like a venture capitalist, Whitehorn describes the pool of available money as "in the hundreds of millions". He explains that the quarter of a billion dollar price tag for Virgin Galactic is affordable because the spend is drawn out over many years, while the fund is receiving income from a range of other more mature investment projects.

Virgin Galactic planning space trips

Space travel for us mere, if moneyed, mortals is on the horizon, and with the help of Protravel International's office in Ada, you can book what many adventurers might call the last unexplored universe.

Virgin Galactic is one of the first companies to sell suborbital space travel.

Virgin's specially designed spacecraft, about the size of a large business jet, will carry six passengers and two pilots. The entire flight, which will last about 2 1/2 hours, begins with rocketing to about 50,000 feet, approximately the cruising altitude of the Concorde) where the SpaceShipTwo SS2 will be released from its mother ship. The SS2 then fires her rockets and accelerates into a vertical climb reaching a speed three times the speed of sound, according to a story on the program in NI magazine.

Once it reaches 360,888 feet, or 68 miles, it slows to a coast and amateur astronauts experience zero gravity, aka weightlessness, for about five minutes, and can see a 1,000-mile horizon view of Earth.

Stephen Attenborough

Speakers, Internet & New Technology, Business & Management, Innovation, Marketing & Brands
Head of Marketing & Communications at Virgin Galactic, Stephen Attenborough is at the forefront of space tourism. Stephen explains to audiences the impact new technologies have on businesses and focuses on how to drive business innovation and growth through the right combination of innovative people and technology. Stephen also entertains his audiences with the enthralling Virgin Galactic Story.
Head of Marketing & Communications at Virgin Galactic, Stephen Attenborough is at the forefront of space tourism. Stephen explains to audiences the impact new technologies have on businesses and focuses on how to drive business innovation and growth through the right combination of innovative people and technology. Stephen also entertains his audiences with the enthralling Virgin Galactic Story.
Head of Marketing & Communications at Virgin Galactic, Stephen Attenborough is at the forefront of space tourism. Stephen explains to audiences the impact new technologies have on businesses and focuses on how to drive business innovation and growth through the right combination of innovative people and technology. Stephen also entertains his audiences with the enthralling Virgin Galactic Story.

There is value in marketing, advertising and brand values

Unlike many, I totally get the value of great marketing and advertising: it activates the Elephant (emotions) bypasses/speaks to the Rider (reason) and shapes behaviour.

I can see the value of brand values. They can be used to guide and, where necessary, constrain the actions of the people developing products and conducting marketing activities. They also help to give put clothes on ordinary products and services and thus give them personality and appeal. I can also see the value of going further and having all the front line people live those values so that they are not simply marketing slogans.

Yet most organisations struggle to live the brand values

Anyone who has an interest in organisational behaviour will understand the distinction between espoused values and lived values. If you look into the mirror you will probably see that our company and most companies struggle to live their brand values in their day to day behaviour. It does not help if the brand values have been cooked up in the marketing dept. My experience is that many in the organisation listen to marketers in a certain way; I have heard the marketing folks described as “the department of coloured pencils” or “the spend spend spend folks” or “the folks that lie for a living” or the “party people” and so forth. So is it a surprise that few people in the organisation actually live brand values cooked up the marketing folks?

So the first challenge is coming up with values that speak to the hearts and minds of the people that work in your organisation. The second challenge is translating those brand values into specific behaviours that everyone in the organisation is expected to embody. The third challenge? Getting the Tops to model these behaviours on a daily basis so that the Middles model these behaviours and onwards to the Bottoms. Fourth, to implement the values within the organisation whilst honouring those values! If one of your values is “innovation” then living your values means coming up with an innovative way of infecting hearts and minds with that value. If one of your values is collaboration then taking a ‘command and control’ approach and telling people they have to collaborate is probably not the right way to foster collaboration.

If you want to use brand values in designing the customer experience then you have to translate them

I, the customer don’t care about your brand values – honestly I don’t. I do care about what others (the journalists, influential bodies, my social circle) say about you. I care about how you treat me, my family, my friends, my social network. And I have a strong interest on what to expect from you? Put differently, what can I count on from you?

So if you accept the line that goes something like “design the customer experience” around your brand values then you have some work to do. You have to take values (that are general) and translate them into specifics – what can your customer expect and count on from you when she is interacting with you and using your products and services? And you have a potential problem – your brand values may not reflect the totality of customer needs. Lets make this real by briefly looking at Virgin’s brand values: Fun, Value for Money, Quality, Innovation, Competitive Challenge, Brilliant Customer Service.

• As a Virgin customer what can I expect from your online presence? What does fun, value for money, quality, innovation, competitive challenge and brilliant customer service mean to me? • Brilliant customer service – does that mean I can quickly, easily contact you at any time, any day, through any channel and get an instant, insightful, relevant and quick response? Does that mean that you assure me of 100% satisfaction? • How about your ‘product’ – what can I count on here? By the way, I like products that are simple to understand and easy to use. Oops it looks like your brand values don’t cater for all my needs and expectations – there is no mention of simplicity in your stated brand values. What are you going to do about that? Are you going to change your brand values or simply factor in my need/expectation and design the customer experience to take that into account?

I hope you get the point that I am making: a lot of work has to go into designing the customer experience and you cannot automatically assume that you can use your brand values as a shortcut. Brand values have to be translated into specifics: specific customers, specific customer scenarios, specific customer touchpoints…….

How about converting brand values into specific promises to customers?

Too much of business is littered with buzzwords and abstract concepts and this is a problem as the devil is in the detail. One way I have found of translating brand values into customer terms is to start with promises. Lets imagine that you are creating a customer charter. What will you put in this customer charter? What are the truths that should be self-evident to you, your organisation and your customers? What are the promises that you are making to your customers? And what specifically do you expect from your customers? This is hard work primarily because buzzwords and brand values lose their appeal when they have to be translated into publicly visible commitments to customers. Yet there are organisations that go beyond the fear and make meaningful promises to customers.

Take John Lewis as an example. John Lewis has made a commitment to customers – the John Lewis Price Pledge - and recently that has hurt profits. This is what the chief executive says “Absolutely it’s costing us money, but it is really important we stick to it.” Is it any surprise that John Lewis regularly comes towards the top for customer satisfaction and loyalty?

The CRM and social media lessons of Virgin Galactic

• Virgin Galactic stands on the threshold of being the first business to make regular commercial flights into space.
• The seeds of Virgin Galactic were sewn during a conversation between Branson and Buzz Aldrin.
• With the advancement in material technology and in aviation, Virgin was convinced it could make more efficient space flights than NASA.
• Space has important implications for the future.
• Virgin needed a first market for its space endeavour, and it chose tourism, a market it knows well.
• Customer insight is central to the Virgin ethos.
• Virgin Galactic used 'word of web' to find out whether there was a market for space tourism and to research the market.
Virgin Galactic stands on the threshold of being the first business to make regular commercial flights into space. If all goes according to plan, the company’s first space tourists could be blasting off in the next 18 months. It represents an incredibly audacious quest, and the organisation as a whole is an amazingly bold business venture.
At the helm of Virgin Galactic is president Will Whitehorn. Whitehorn is often portrayed as Richard Branson’s righthand man at Virgin Group, and before his present position at Galactic, he was Group public relations manager and head of the Group’s public affairs department.

Virgin Galactic Launches Salesforce CRM to Deliver Astronaut Relations in the Cloud

Sales Cloud 2 selected to fire up direct sales for the Astronaut Relations program

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SAN FRANCISCO, May 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM), the enterprise cloud computing company, today announced that Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline developed by Sir Richard Branson, has deployed salesforce.com's Sales Cloud 2 to manage the direct sales process for its Astronaut Relations program.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050216/SFW105LOGO)

Virgin Galactic Looks to the Cloud

By using Salesforce CRM to manage direct sales and to track all conversations with potential customers, Virgin Galactic is providing its highly mobile Astronaut Relations team with a wealth of information at their fingertips. Potential astronauts who visit the Virgin Galactic website can easily register their interest via a simple web-form that routes their details instantly to the Virgin Galactic Astronaut Relations team as a result of the real-time cloud computing infrastructure.

Comments on the News

• "Our potential customers are located all over the world and we needed an application that would allow our Astronaut Relations team to manage such a dispersed and unique customer base," said Dave Clark, astronaut relations, Virgin Galactic. "Salesforce.com enables us to track all our conversations with potential astronauts. This allows our direct sales team to access vital information via an Internet connection or their smart phones, anytime, anywhere." • "Virgin Galactic is a pioneer, and it is only fitting it chose the pioneer in enterprise cloud computing to manage all of its astronaut relations," said Kendall Collins, chief marketing officer, salesforce.com. "Virgin Galactic's business is very unique and the customizable nature of salesforce.com's applications allowed the company to create the exact functionality it needed."

About salesforce.com

Salesforce.com is the enterprise cloud computing company. Based on salesforce.com's real-time, multitenant architecture, the company's platform and CRM applications (http://www.salesforce.com/crm) have revolutionized the way companies collaborate and communicate with their customers, including:

• The Sales Cloud, for sales force automation and contact management • The Service Cloud, for customer service and support solutions • Chatter, for social collaboration • The Force.com platform, for custom application development • The AppExchange, the world's leading marketplace for enterprise cloud computing applications

Salesforce.com offers the fastest path to customer success with cloud computing. As of April 30, 2010, salesforce.com manages customer information for approximately 77,300 customers including Allianz Commercial, Dell, Japan Post, Kaiser Permanente, KONE, and SunTrust Banks.

Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase salesforce.com applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available. Salesforce.com has headquarters in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "CRM." For more information please visit http://www.salesforce.com, or call 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE.

Virgin Galactic

We have recently completed the new and eagerly-awaited marketing and promotional materials for pioneers of commercial space travel — Virgin Galactic — consisting of a 5-colour brochure with DVD, a flyer and limited edition HD laminated, foil-blocked box.

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Featuring new images of the VMS Eve mothership and VSS Enterprise spacecraft in flight, exclusive photos and quotes from the future astronauts, and a visual of the Foster + Partners designed Spaceport America in the New Mexico, the brochure has been designed to fulfill the brief from Virgin Galactic — to communicate that commercial spaceflight is no longer a dream, but a reality — and indeed, that deposits are now accepted. The test flight programme for the new space vehicles is currently underway, prior to the start of the world’s first regular commercial manned spaceflight service.

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The brochure design is based on a structured yet flexible grid allowing a lively, considered layout and features stunning imagery and muted colour palette.

The brochure also features:

• A fold-out cover detailing the history of spaceflight • Centre section throw-out illustrating the journey into space with relevant altitudes • Explanations of the actual experience (eg. how travelling at 4 times the speed of sound and floating in zero gravity really feels) • Information about technology and safety issues • Classic but poignant quotes about discovery and exploration from authors like Mark Twain which pepper the pages, together with quotes from the likes of Burt Rutan – the aeronautical design inspiration for the launch system and founder of Scaled Composites where the mothership and spaceship were built and are now being tested. • Wide, asymmetric borders for the photos (influenced from the iconic images taken from the Hubble telescope which were often seen with ‘staggered’ borders when imaged together). • Back cover throw-out with the very sexy Virgin Galactic Girl logo! • Printing in 4 colour process with silver, and gloss sealer throughout, plus a high-gloss laminated cover to represent the spacecraft.

The limited edition hinged box houses the brochure and features the original Virgin Galactic logo inspired by Phillipe Stark plus some simple detailed metallic foil blocking of the ‘DNA of flight’.

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“We wanted the box to represent space, and the brochure to represent the spaceship, so we have designed a black box with an HD laminated finish to give a tactile rubbery matt feel, revealing the hi-gloss, predominantly white, brochure for an interesting combination of textures and finishes.”

Space Tourism: Virgin Galactic - world’s first commercial operation
Date: Monday, March 12, 2012 @ 11:27:30 LKT
Topic: Travel & Tourism News

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Sri Richard Branson, the founder of the 'Virgin' empire has a long history of taking on conglomerates for the benefit of consumers. But it is the venture into space that is tapping into a much deeper human emotion.

In the history of global commerce, there are very few occasions where an entirely new product category is created. But Virgin is about to do just that. In the next year or so, Virgin Galactic is set to become the world's first commercial operation, offering daily flights to space. Space travel is an industry with huge potential and fortunes to be made. To-date, only about 518 people from 38 countries have flown into space. The projection is that by 2020, as many as 50,000 persons would fly into space every ear.

In June 2011, Virgin confirmed 'SpaceShipTwo,' Virgin Galactic's first passenger carrying spaceship, had completed two successful glide flights with 24 hours, making it the quickest turnaround time yet and proving daily flights are indeed a real possibility.

Demand for Space Flights

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|Prasanna Perera |

Virgin has more than 440 deposits from customers or people it calls 'future astronauts' totaling USD 88 million in revenue. The ticket price for a return seat on SpaceShipTwo is USD 200,000!! There is a long waiting list of affluent consumers from China to America, including American actor Tom Hanks and Princess Beatrice. (First royal in space).

Virgin Strives for an Unique Customer Experience

The Virgin groups is synonymous for providing excellent customer service and experiences. Space tourism is no exception. In the Virgin style, the company is relentlessly focusing on providing a customer experience no one else has achieved.

The Virgin Galactic will be the ultimate example of that customer experience philosophy. What Human Needs and Desires does Virgin Galactic Hope to Satisfy?

In true marketing style, Virgin has identified the needs and desires of 'future astronauts.'

- Safety at all cost (No compromises)

- The desire to push boundaries

- To explore and to overcome challenges

To obtain a once in a lifetime experience, which is rewarding but risky (to some extent)

Marketing Strategy of Virgin Galactic (SpaceShipTwo)

The experience of 'space' almost markets itself. The mystery, aura, tension, pride, risk etc., are all associated with space travel and tourism. The product is quite simply 'ONE PRODUCT.'

The pricing strategy is super premium pricing, after all, it is the most expensive seat on the planet! (USD 200,000). Distribution strategy is two-fold. Either purchase a seat 'on-line' or make a reservation with the Virgin Galactic ticket office. Communication is viral, both off line and online. The sheer experience that is expected is a fantastic topic for social media marketing (facebook, twitter, myspace, linkedin).

Customer Relations To a New Level

Virgin Galactic is also advancing customer relations to areas most global brands have yet to explore or even have not dreamt about. 'Future Astronauts' (customers), upon signing, are welcomed into what is possibly the world's most exclusive club with privileged access to all aspects of the project as it progresses. Buying a ticket also means invites to astronaut forums with Sir Richard Branson at his Caribbean Island home or his South African game reserve, to see first- hand new Virgin Galactic vehicles under development. All 'astronauts' are also given VIP invitations to media events, to mark major milestones.

Competitors

None at all at present, not even in the future horizon. However, Virgin is cautious. Virgin never worries too much about competitors, since they do things drastically different to their competitors. In this case, the stakes are very high (positives), as well as the negatives if things go horribly wrong. Sir Richard Branson is never a person to worry too much and believes that space tourism will be a mega hit!

A Clear Business Idea

Space tourism is a simple, clear business idea i.e. to take people on a journey of a lifetime outside the planet. One product, high demand, clearly defined customers and no competition. To add to it all, the concept of 'space' that almost markets itself. Will space tourism be sustainable Only time will tell.

“We love the fact, we are constantly making business decisions that have never been made before.”

(Stephen Attenborough, Head of Marketing, Virgin Galactic

We Love You Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic: Marketing Strategy with Purpose
Richard Branson is executing the most effective marketing strategy of all time. [pic]

More importantly, it is also perhaps the most valuable. Because Richard's marketing strategy could very well save the world.

Imagine what it will be like when hundreds of people have returned from space travel. I imagine that the enlightenment resulting from seeing the world from space will influence the mindset of every inhabitant on Earth. For the good.

Now imagine what will happen when thousands travel into space; then tens of thousands. Undoubtedly, so many will look down with the eyes of God in profound wonder and know, for sure, there is nothing more important than caring for our planet. It will be impossible to do other than dedicate one's life to creating a better civilization; one that is more sane and harmonious (for goodness sake, as the human race, we kill our own kind, pollute our home and do all sorts of ridiculous acts of violence because of the prevailing primitive mindset….)

The sphere of influence of each one of these new astronauts will be so strong that it is impossible to ignore the demand for sensibility among humankind. Everyone will stop and listen.

We love you Richard. Thank you for allowing the most miraculous of experiences to take place within our lifetime. Thank you for making it possible to tip the scales, to change the mindset of humanity by giving us a chance to see the world from a new perspective.

It is up to business owners to make their economic position for the good and make it happen. If you need help, I'll give you a hand with marketing so you will be a success!

One size may not fit all

by Jeff Foust
Monday, March 31, 2008

For the last few years, commercial suborbital spaceflight has been virtually synonymous with a single company: Virgin Galactic. The technical brilliance of Scaled Composites and Burt Rutan, as demonstrated by SpaceShipOne and many other aerospace projects, coupled with the marketing expertise of Virgin, made Virgin Galactic the clear leader in the emerging suborbital market for tourism and other applications. As recently as January, hundreds swarmed a Virgin Galactic media event in New York where the company unveiled the designs of SpaceShipTwo and White Knight Two.

That mindshare dominance, though, is being challenged. As the schedule for SpaceShipTwo slips, it provides an opportunity for other companies to gain a better footing in the market, and possibly even try to enter service before Virgin. Last week XCOR Aerospace made its latest move into the suborbital spaceflight market, announcing a vehicle, dubbed Lynx, that could enter service within two years. The efforts of XCOR and others are resulting in a wide diversity of vehicles, leaving it up to the market to determine which one—or ones—work best.

Minimal spaceship

XCOR’s initial foray into the suborbital vehicle market dates back to 2002, when the company unveiled plans in cooperation with Space Adventures for a vehicle called Xerus. The rocket-powered spaceplane would take off from a runway, climb to an altitude of 100 kilometers, then glide back to a runway landing. XCOR featured Xerus prominently on its web site, and even obtained an FAA launch license for an intermediate technology demonstration vehicle in 2004, but in recent years the project faded into the background as the company built up its reputation as a developer of rocket engines.

|“The Lynx is the smallest step forward we can take. If I could |
|figure out how to carry half a passenger, I’d make the vehicle |
|even smaller,” Greason said. |

However, XCOR had continued to work on the concept, adjusting the design until eventually it became a different vehicle. “What happened is that three years ago, the design evolution just kind of gradually evolved to the point where we looked around and said, ‘You know, this really isn’t the same ship any more,’” Jeff Greason, XCOR president, said at a March 26 press conference in Beverly Hills, California, where the new design was unveiled.

XCOR had kept that work under wraps, but several factors led the company to unveil the design, including the award of an Air Force Research Laboratory Phase 2 SBIR contract to demonstrate the “operationally responsive” features of the vehicle. XCOR chief engineer Dan DeLong, speaking March 28 at the Space Access ’08 conference in Phoenix, said that several other factors also played a role, including the maturation of the vehicle’s design, its schedule, and a recent NASA request for information for suborbital flight services to which the company planned to respond.

Lynx is at first glance similar in technical approach and concept of operations as the old Xerus. The two-seat Lynx also takes off from a runway under rocket power (most likely four liquid oxygen/kerosene engines that are derivatives of existing XCOR-developed engines), climbs to a peak altitude, and glides back home. The shape of the vehicle has changed somewhat though: the canards on Xerus have been removed, and the nose has been modified to give it a “duck bill” shape similar to that on the BOR-4, a Soviet spaceplane prototype. The peak altitude has also been reduced to just over 60 kilometers, below most common definitions of the “boundary” of space but still high enough to provide a good view of the Earth and also permit a couple minutes of weightlessness.

The relatively small size and low performance of Lynx was a deliberate decision by XCOR to manage the challenges of vehicle development. “The Lynx is the smallest step forward we can take. If I could figure out how to carry half a passenger, I’d make the vehicle even smaller,” Greason said. “We think it makes a lot more sense, both technically and financially, to start small and grow than it does to spend large sums of money before the market is mature.”

The sum of money that XCOR needs to spend is relatively modest: DeLong said that XCOR has spent about $7 million on the Lynx development to date, and expected to spend about $9 million more to complete the project. XCOR hasn’t raised all the money needed, but company officials are confident that, given current trends, it’s only a matter of time before the financing of Lynx is closed. “We haven’t closed all the investment we need right now. What I can say about that is that the last few months have been very promising, and if money keeps coming in at the rate that it has been, we should have no trouble making it,” Greason said.

Once Lynx is built, the company plans a rigorous flight test program. Rick Searfoss, a former NASA astronaut who is now XCOR’s chief test pilot, described an incremental test program that will start with simple runway hops followed by a series of subsonic test flights before the company attempts to break the sound barrier and then, finally, perform a complete flight profile. “I could easily see a 50 to 70 to 100 flight program in the flight test, which is very doable with this kind of architecture,” he said. Greason declined to give a detailed schedule for the test flights, but said he would be “surprised if it is very radically different from a year, year and a half.”

Lynx is designed to maximize operability, and once it enters service it could fly up to four times in a single day. “That high flight rate is critically important,” Greason said. “That high flight rate allows us to do a much smaller vehicle with a single passenger and still fly as many people as you could with a larger vehicle that flew less often.”

|“I honestly think that the difference between where we are now |
|and a functional vehicle that takes a person to 100 kilometers |
|is only about $2 million in investment” plus another $1 million|
|for a 100-flight test program. |

XCOR, though, doesn’t plan to operate the Lynx itself commercially, instead signing agreements with operators who would package the Lynx flights with training and other activities to sell to individual customers. Greason said that XCOR was in “quite advanced discussions” with one operator and has talked with several others. Since the operators will be selling the flights, Greason couldn’t give a per ticket cost, but he anticipated that the vehicle’s operating costs would permit ticket prices “roughly half of what our competitors are promising,” or on the order of $100,000 each.

While Lynx is the company’s first step towards routine, low-cost spaceflight, it’s far from the last. XCOR is already planning a more powerful “Mark 2” version of Lynx capable of flying higher and faster. That version would also feature external hardpoints that would allow it to carry an expendable upper stage for launching nanosatellites into orbit. DeLong said the Mark 2 version would cost an additional $12 million to develop, and could be ready as soon as 12–18 months after the original Lynx is completed.

Greason also said that they selected particular technical approaches because they believe they will also be applicable to eventual flight. “We did not dream up this design in a vacuum,” he said. “Orbital flight is where we want to go.”

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|John Carmack provides an update about Armadillo Aerospace during the Space Access ’08 |
|conference in Phoenix on March 28. (credit: J. Foust) |

Other developments

While XCOR got its share of media attention last week, it’s not the only company in this field making recent progress. Armadillo Aerospace, best known for its efforts to win the Lunar Lander Challenge at the last two X Prize Cups, has its own plans for suborbital vehicles. Last month Armadillo released illustrations of its concept, colloquially known as the “six pack” because it features six of its propulsion modules connected together. On top of the modules is a clear sphere that can accommodate a single passenger—the vehicle is piloted from the ground—for a vertical takeoff to 100 kilometers, followed by a vertical landing.

“I still do think that the big prospect is the suborbital tourism market,” Armadillo founder John Carmack said at the Space Access conference on March 28. “I honestly think that the difference between where we are now and a functional vehicle that takes a person to 100 kilometers is only about $2 million in investment” plus another $1 million for a 100-flight test program. “We think that’s kind of reasonable.”

Where Armadillo is now is continuing its development work, including preparing to test a four-module vehicle. Armadillo is also still digesting the lessons learned from last October’s X Prize Cup, when the team went in confident that it would win at least the Level 1 part of the competition, only to suffer a series of technical problems (see “Hard start, tough finish”, The Space Review, October 29, 2007). “It would have taken bad luck for us not to win in 2007,” Carmack said. “And we didn’t win. We took three vehicles in and we came back with three wrecked engines.”

“We can’t say with absolute certainly what all the issues are,” he said. Some of the hard starts Armadillo’s engines suffered were probably caused by changes in the operating environment, including the speed at which the vehicles were turned around for the return leg. “We thought we were right on the knife edge and one of those things—operating five minutes faster or one psi less pressure—might have been something that pushed us over the edge there.” The engine that failed in the final flight attempt at the Cup may have suffered from some kind of assembly error, he added.

|“We don’t have the billionaire celebrity global media star |
|branding at the top of our masthead, therefore, other global |
|brands don’t have to compete with their vehicle provider,” said|
|Rocketplane Global’s Lauer. |

While the Lunar Lander Challenge has provided Armadillo with publicity, it has also been a source of frustration, particularly because the team flew a Level 1-winning profile—in June, at the Oklahoma Spaceport. “In many ways, the way the Lunar Lander Challenge has been run has been a detriment for us,” Carmack said. The competition schedule forces them to decide whether to hold off on technical improvements lest they not be ready by the time the next competition rolls around. “The once-a-year, in-front-of-a-crowd arrangement is almost the worst possible thing for a technical development challenge.”

“I’m hesitant to make any scheduling guesses on this, because here we are with year eight for Armadillo and we certainly thought we’d be further along, but we have a good handle on a lot of problems we didn’t even know existed early on,” Carmack said. “Progress is continuous.” However, he said he believes Armadillo has a chance to beat Virgin to market. “The SpaceShipTwo schedule has been slipping as fast as time goes by. I still think we’ve got every chance in the world of perhaps coming out and scooping” SpaceShipTwo.

Rocketplane Global, meanwhile, is working to keep up. The company, once a subsidiary of Rocketplane Inc., is now an independent firm. “When Rocketplane and Kistler merged, there were good reasons for it,” Rocketplane Global vice president Chuck Lauer said at the Space Access conference on March 29. Once Rocketplane Kistler lost its funded COTS agreement with NASA last fall, though, “we felt we needed to separate the two companies back and get to a situation where the suborbital program could stand on its own.”

Rocketplane Global is continuing development of the XP suborbital vehicle, a revised design of which was unveiled last October. “Our marketing strategy is to put the customer first, to allow the customers to develop their own spaceflight experiences,” Lauer said. The company is pushing a charter flight business model, selling flights to reality TV shows and corporations that want a unique branding experience. Those charter flight customers have ranged from Microsoft to Nestle France to Bindass, a new Indian TV network. The company has also signed an agreement with First Advantage, a Japanese company, to provide charter flights for space weddings.

In that market, Rocketplane’s relative anonymity is an advantage. “We don’t have the billionaire celebrity global media star branding at the top of our masthead, therefore, other global brands don’t have to compete with their vehicle provider,” said Lauer. “We provide a blank canvas for our corporate customers to be able to write their own message.”

As for when the XP will be ready to fly, contingent on the company’s ability to raise the money needed to develop the vehicle, “we’re in the same ballpark as Virgin,” Lauer said. “We’re all in that 2010–2011 timeframe.”

An emerging horse race

As Lauer suggested, it currently appears that in a couple of years, four companies—Armadillo, Rocketplane, Virgin, and XCOR—could have vehicles in or about to enter commercial service. (There’s also the possibility of a fifth company, Blue Origin; the highly-secretive company has offered few details about when and how it will enter the commercial suborbital spaceflight market.) Moreover, while a year ago most agreed that Virgin would be first to market, now it is possible that one or more competitors might get there before SpaceShipTwo is ready.

“Quietly, this has turned into a horse race,” said conference organizer Henry Vanderbilt during a wrap-up panel at the conclusion of the Space Access conference. “There are a lot of people who could be the first to fly a passenger to suborbit at this point. Two years ago I’m sure the money would have been on Virgin Galactic. It isn’t necessarily so at this point.”

|“Quietly, this has turned into a horse race,” said conference |
|organizer Henry Vanderbilt. “Two years ago I’m sure the money |
|would have been on Virgin Galactic. It isn’t necessarily so at |
|this point.” |

“What struck me about the events of this week was that we have finally, with all due respect, broken the mystique of Burt [Rutan],” Rand Simberg, an aerospace engineer and blogger, said. “He has had setbacks”—referring to the engine test accident last July that killed three Scaled Composites employees—“and, this week, now he has a competitor.” The growing awareness of companies other than Virgin “is going to be very good for the industry.”

“This perception of a horse race is probably a really, really good thing for investment,” said Joe Pistritto, an angel investor. “Ninety-nine percent of the people who could invest in this industry don’t know about this industry” but may start to learn about it as they find out about these competing companies.

If it is a horse race, who will win the ultimate prize: not just the first vehicle to enter the market, but the one that wins the market in the long run? The diversity of technical approaches, from the takeoff and landing techniques to the number of passengers, makes any predictions difficult. “If there’s four different operators flying people into space, their offerings are going to be a little different,” said Pistritto. “So you see an actual segmentation of the market around the experience you want, how much money you have, and where you are.”

“I don’t think one of these or the other is going to be the only way to go,” Greason said when asked to compare Lynx with SpaceShipTwo. “I think there is going to be multiple entrants into this market. I think we bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table. I think the different experiences people are going to have on these ships are different enough that some people may prefer one over the other, or maybe both will coexist. Only the marketplace can tell us how that’s going to evolve.”

“I get asked who’s going to be first in the marketplace question a lot,” he added. “I’m not that interested. Yeah, it’s always nice to be first, but it’s better to be right.”

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Jeff Foust (jeff@thespacereview.com) is the editor and publisher of The Space Review. He also operates the Spacetoday.net web site and the Space Politics and Personal Spaceflight weblogs. Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone, and do not represent the official positions of any organization or company, including the Futron Corporation, the author’s employer.
Space tourism company depends on clients to create buzz

LOS ANGELES (AP) — They are celestial missionaries of sorts: professionals with a wild side, celebrities with money to burn and semi-retirees with a hankering for one last thrill.
What they share is a desire to float weightless for a mere five minutes. They've also got $200,000 to book a flight into space.
Even without a guarantee that they would ever blast off, these leisurenauts are voluntarily promoting commercial space travel — still several years away, at least — with an almost religious fervor in speeches, writings, even art exhibits.
The buzz is about Virgin Galactic, the fledgling spaceline founded by British airline mogul Sir Richard Branson. It strategically chooses its clients to be the public face of the company in an effort to draw attention to and, it hopes, corner the infant space tourism market.
Take Trevor Beattie, a London-based advertising guru with a trademark mop of curly black hair. Beattie was in Los Angeles at a space conference this spring hyping a flight he expects to take in 2008 — the program still awaits federal approval and the completion of its rocketship.
Flanked by Virgin Galactic executives, Beattie gushed about his idol, moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, who happened to be in the crowd.
"When I was a kid, I wanted to be Buzz Aldrin. Now I'm a fully grown adult ... and I still want to be Buzz Aldrin," said Beattie, 46, who has agreed to create for free a 60-second commercial for Virgin Galactic that will hit theaters in the fall.
In the ultra-secretive world of personal space flight, Virgin Galactic is depending on customers such as Beattie to spread the word. While "founders," as the first 100 Virgin Galactic passengers are known, aren't required to promote the company, many eagerly do.
One is Namira Salim, a 35-year-old artist who splits her time between Monaco and the United Arab Emirates.
Inspired by her founder role, Salim will host an exhibit focused on space tourism in her native Pakistan in September featuring a handcrafted replica of SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately funded, manned rocket plane to reach space. Virgin Galactic has contracted with SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan to develop the suborbital spacecraft SpaceShipTwo that would initially launch from the Mojave Desert and later at a proposed spaceport in New Mexico.
Salim, who used inheritance money to reserve her seat, chafed at the notion that only the rich can afford to go to space.
"If founders don't make their contribution today, then the common man won't be able to fly tomorrow," she said.
More than 60,000 people have registered to fly with Virgin Galactic since 2004, but only about 200 have paid full or partial deposits totaling about $16.4 million, according to the company. That money is refundable if flights, which would have six passengers and two crew, never take off.
Its competitor, Virginia-based Space Adventures, which brokered three tourist flights to the international space station, has more than 200 reservations, but only $3 million in escrow. Oklahoma-based Rocketplane Kistler declined to disclose sales figures.
Which company emerges as the space tourism leader likely will hinge on its safety record — as well as the personalities a company flies into the final frontier who return with gushing tales of seeing Earth from above.
Space tourism experts say they aren't surprised by Virgin Galactic's strategy given Branson's marketing savvy. Though the company says it respects its clients' privacy, it trumps a celebrity founder roster that includes former "Dallas" actress Victoria Principal, designer Philippe Starck and "Superman Returns" director Bryan Singer. (Singer featured a Virgin Galactic spaceship in his movie after contacting Branson about the company.)
"They're very sophisticated about branding, name recognition and all those emotional connections," said John Spencer, founder of the Los Angeles-based non-profit Space Tourism Society.
The company is picky about who gets the first rides, said Virgin Galactic executive Stephen Attenborough, who oversees relations with space tourists. Founders are "our greatest ambassadors. Without them, we have no business," he said.
Candidates are carefully screened for geographic and occupational diversity. Rejects can apply to be "pioneers" or "voyagers" — those who fly next. Unlike founders, who pay $200,000 upfront, pioneers and voyagers just put down an initial deposit.
Eighty founders have enrolled; the remaining 20 slots will be filled by invitation. Once in the founders' club, members enjoy special perks including access to a password-protected website where they can contact other passengers. They also become automatic gold card members of Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline and get invited to events where they are treated like rock stars.
The company wants to send 500 people into space in its first year of flights — roughly the same number of people who have gone up in 45 years of space travel.
One is Alan Walton, a 70-year-old daredevil from Connecticut who has skydived at the North Pole, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and is penning a book about life as a founder that will climax with his trip to the cosmos.
Walton, who emigrated from England with just $10 and made his fortune in biotechnology and venture capital, was among the first to send in his check.
"This is something that I spend every day thinking about — the excitement of doing something that so few people have the chance to do," said Walton of Westport, Conn.
Not everyone is eager to sign up with Virgin Galactic.
Reda Anderson, a 66-year-old real estate investor from Los Angeles who has dived down to the Titanic and driven across the Gobi Desert, preferred Rocketplane Kistler because unlike Virgin Galactic, the company gives her open access during construction of its spacecraft.
"If someone is secretive," she said, "I tend to shy away."
Virgin Corporate Strategy

The Virgin Group Ltd is a group of separately run British companies with the Virgin brand under the leadership of English celebrity business tycoon Sir Richard Branson. The core business areas are travel, entertainment and lifestyle, among others. We are honoured to have our guest contributor, InSpir3d (owner of a very famous blog in Singapore) discuss the corporate strategy of the Virgin Group on our blog.

Contributed by InSpir3d

Virgin’s Corporate Strategy

1. Richard Branson and the Virgin Group
Virgin’s first and most obvious distinctive resource is Richard Branson and the ‘Virgin People’ that make up the organisation. Richard Branson’s charismatic style and entrepreneurial flair is an asset that other organisations are unable to replicate, and it is his personality that is synonymous with the Virgin Brand and that makes the company unique. Similarly, the Virgin group attracts ‘Virgin People,’ who are ‘only a certain type.’ Together with Branson, the Virgin People form the human capital that is distinctive to Virgin that is impossible for other firms to copy.

Related to the people who make up the firm, is the ‘Virgin culture’ that has been built over decades and that distinguishes the work environment within Virgin Group from other organisations. It is a culture that is ‘not looking for clones,’ that is ‘like a family’ and is one that requires employees to have the ‘Virgin Flair.’ These unique attributes present in Virgin employees meld together to create a distinctive corporate culture that only the Virgin Group can claim to have.

Richard Branson’s personality is synonymous with Virgin’s strong branding & reputation. The brand was ‘recognised by 96 percent of UK consumers’ and is associated amongst consumers with ‘fun, innovation, success and trust.’ Virgin has been able to sustain the Virgin identity across multiple businesses in a way that that very few other corporations have, and the pervasiveness of the Virgin brand creates unique brand equity that is difficult for competitors to replicate.

2. Corporate Synergies
The corporate strategy of the Virgin Group is to operate like ‘a venture capital firm based on the Virgin brand.’ This strategy involves non-related diversification at the individual business unit level. Meanwhile, synergies are created from hierarchical relationships and the interaction of the corporate head office with individual business units. By leveraging on the Virgin Brand which has established prominence in the minds of consumers, Virgin is able to enter new business areas with a bang and shake up existing orders. The unique Virgin culture also allows Virgin to break into new markets and execute its ventures very effectively.

Virgin’s corporate strategy is best described in the Virgin Charter – the individual businesses are focused and develop as autonomous enterprises under a single unified brand name. This decentralization of organizational structure and decision making allows an entrepreneurial environment for managers to pursue their businesses effectively, while avoiding the bureaucracy associated with large centralised corporations. At the same time, the individual businesses benefit from the world-wide, inter-industrial reputation of the parent corporation’s Virgin brand and are able utilize this brand recognition in their marketing efforts. This benefit of corporate parenting would not be available to them if they were operating under their own subsidiary brands, and is perhaps the greatest source of synergy within the Virgin Group. In this manner, Virgin is able to enjoy the benefits of both smaller entrepreneurial organisations and large conglomerates without the associated problems of bureaucracy and brand conflict that can often feature in diversified corporations.

Furthermore, Virgin has been able to deal with the potential downsides of autonomy and decentralization. To prevent the breakdown of communication links and individual business units pursuing their own strategies in an uncoordinated fashion (that could potentially be detrimental to the umbrella Virgin brand), the Virgin Charter sets out a management system and internet business strategy that takes advantage of information technology and the digital age to further establish the Virgin brand. A single web address, Virgin.com, is where consumers can go to have access to all the Virgin services under a single portal. This strategy helps to reinforce the corporate parenting strategy and enhance the synergies already derived from the corporate branding of the Virgin Group. By aggregating all the services into a single Virgin portal, the customer is able to access multiple services through a single distribution channel, and is enticed to turn into a ‘Virgin Customer’ where he comes to Virgin for his telecommunications, banking, terrestrial and extra-terrestrial transportation (Virgin Galactic), entertainment and internet service needs. In this way, the disparate Virgin businesses are able to gain from the successes from their corporate siblings – Virgin Rail gains customers referred from Virgin Mobile visiting the Virgin.com portal, while Virgin Money gains customers referred from Virgin Records, and so on. In comparison, competitor banking companies would hardly dream of marketing their services to a music crowd, while competitor railway companies would be hard pressed to market to mobile customers of an unrelated company. Even though the individual business units are in unrelated fields, the unified corporate strategy allows them to contribute to each other in a synergistic manner.

3. Threats to Virgin’s corporate strategy

The success of Virgin Group hinges upon the corporate parenting strategy which is led by founder Richard Branson. The sustainability of Virgin Group’s competitive advantage depends on how well it continues to retain the Virgin culture and execute the strategy of decentralization under a unified branding. At least in the short run, with Branson continuing to lead the company, the strategy looks very strong and almost ‘unstoppable.’

In the longer run, however, Branson will have to put in place a strong succession plan and fill the corporate head office with executives who are able to understand and execute the Virgin Charter. While Branson himself might be irreplaceable, he can leave his legacy by ensuring that his vision is sustained through the Virgin Culture and Virgin People.

Virgin also has to ensure that it selects the industries it wants to enter very carefully. A single misstep could tarnish the Virgin Brand, and this could be disastrous for the group as a whole – unification under a single brand is a double-edged sword that can cut both ways. In addition, Virgin needs to continue to ensure that the individual business units perform in line with the greater Virgin brand, and not branch off in an unrelated manner. Doing so could dilute the Virgin brand if business units perform their operations in a way that lacks the fun, trust and quality that is associated with Virgin.

If Virgin is able to build a strong leadership engine, carefully evaluate future business opportunities, and retain the branding coordination between its diverse businesses, then its corporate strategy is well positioned to deliver a bright future for the company.

References:
[1] Dess, G., (2007) “Strategic Management: Creating Competitive Advantages,� McGraw-Hill Australia
[2] Dick, deVries and d’Avaucourt (2000) “The house that Branson built: Virgin’s entry into the new millennium,� INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France

About the author: The writer, InSpir3d, runs a very famous blog with a bunch of links, and has a deep interest in corporate and competitive strategy.

Virgin Galactic Spacecraft Glides to Safety

The company's VSS Enterprise spacecraft, designed for space tourists, completes a critical mission.

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Virgin Galactic, the U.S. company developing the world's first commercial manned space flight system and tourism business, announced the successful completion today of the first piloted free flight of SpaceShipTwo, named the VSS Enterprise. The spaceship was released from its mothership at an altitude of 45,000 feet, according to company information, and glided to land at Mojave Air and Spaceport in California on Sunday.
During its first flight, Pete Siebold, assisted by Mike Alsbury as co-pilot, piloted the spaceship. According to Virgin, the two main goals of the flight were to carry out a clean release of the spaceship from its mothership and for the pilots to free fly and glide back and land at Mojave.
Other objectives of the flight were also completed, including verification that all systems worked prior to and following the clean release of the Enterprise, initial evaluation of handling and stall characteristics, qualitative evaluation of stability and control of SS2 against predictions from design and simulation work, verification of performance by evaluating the lift-to-drag ratio of the spaceship during glide flight, and practice of a landing approach at altitude and finally descend and land.
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, was present during the first successful flight. "This was one of the most exciting days in the whole history of Virgin. For the first time since we seriously began the project in 2004, I watched the world's first manned commercial spaceship landing on the runway at Mojave Air and Space Port, and it was a great moment," he said. "Now, the sky is no longer the limit, and we will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself over the next year."
Preparations for the milestone flight were extensive. The WhiteKnightTwo mothership (Eve) flew 40 times, including four captive carry flights of spaceship and mothership mated together. The most recent captive carry was on Sept. 30. The most recent solo flight was on Oct. 5 and demonstrated that all the systems required for a free flight by the VSS Enterprise were functioning correctly without any safety issues.
"The VSS Enterprise was a real joy to fly, especially when one considers the fact that the vehicle has been designed not only to be a Mach 3.5 spaceship capable of going into space but also one of the world's highest altitude gliders," Siebold said.
Virgin Galactic said it is now well on the way to becoming the world's first commercial space line, with 370 customer deposits totaling $50 million. Future commercial operations will be at Spaceport America in New Mexico, where final preparations are taking place for a finished runway inauguration ceremony on Oct 22. 2010, according to a company release.
"To see the world's first manned commercial spaceship landing on a runway is a sight I always dreamed I would behold," said George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, who was also present at the flight. "Now, our challenge going forward will be to complete our experimental program, obtain our FAA license and safely bring the system into service at Spaceport America, N.M."

Spa, or space? The ultimate tour gift choice - Your Money - International Herald Tribune

SINGAPORE — When the Soneva Fushi Resort & Spa opened in the Maldives in 1995, revenue from its spa was a paltry $20,000 in the first year. In the same time, the resort's diving school took in about $400,000.

"Most of our guests had never had a spa experience," said Sonu Shivdasani, chairman of Six Senses Hotels, Resorts and Spas, the resort's owner.

This year, spa revenue at the luxury resort soared to $800,000 in the 12 months ending June 30, compared with $600,000 for the diving school.

Spa resorts now bring in billions of dollars in Asia, catering to honeymooners, vacationers and, increasingly, executives enjoying a corporate retreat. After the swimming pool, tennis court and golf course, spa facilities have become the latest must-have, offering fasting, detox and an array of therapies using crystals, water and aromas.

"Wellness is not a trend, but a necessity in modern times," says Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, which runs a string of luxury resorts. In this ever more sophisticated and hurried world, more people are demanding ways "to stay focused and in touch with their inner self," he said.

A recent survey of spa facilities in the Philippines by the market research company Intelligent Spas, reported 74 percent growth in the Philippine industry since 2003, with 87 spas now operating. Another report found a 129 percent increase since 2002 in the number of spas in Australia.

Intense competition is driving a trend toward increasingly exotic settings. Le Canonnier Hotel in Mauritius has created a spa in and around an ancient Banyan tree. The Evason Hideaway at Hua Hin, Thailand, part of the Six Senses group, offers an Earth Spa experience inside traditional domed huts made of mud, rice husks and straw. The Aquum Spa at the Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives offers underwater massage treatment rooms. Other Maldivian spas have rooms with glass floors built over the ocean, allowing guests to watch the underwater world while relaxing under expert fingers.

If an underwater spa in the Indian Ocean is not far enough away from it all, those in search of inner peace can book now for the next frontier in luxurious solitudes: outer space.

"Space tourism today already exists. We've pioneered it. But it's extremely expensive," says Eric Anderson, president and chief executive of Space Adventures, the first private company to send paying guests into orbit.

So far, four people have shelled out around $20 million each for the trip of a lifetime. The next, Charles Simonyi, a senior Microsoft research executive, is due to board the International Space Station from a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in March.

Tours to the space station, orbiting 250 miles, or 400 kilometers, above the Earth, will typically be offered as an 8-to-10 day vacation. But space tourism companies are looking at suborbital flights as a more viable business model, operating reusable craft to carry passengers for a few hours to altitudes of about 62 miles above the planet's surface. At that height, weightless travelers will experience something that many dream of for years. Clients will also get at least three days of astronaut training as part of the package.

Space Adventures, Virgin Galactic, Benson Space Company, Rocketplane Kistler and Blue Origin are just a few of the tour companies already competing for this new market segment, which they expect to become a reality by 2009.

A 2004 survey by the technology consulting company Futron Corp.

indicated that the space tourism market could generate revenue in excess of $1 billion per year by 2021. Suborbital space tourism would take the lion's share, with as many as 15,000 passengers paying $700 million in annual revenue by 2021, the survey suggested. Orbital space tourism, while growing more slowly than its suborbital counterpart, could cater to as many as 60 passengers a year, producing $300 million in annual revenue, it said.

Companies are now working to develop the next generation of safe and cost-effective suborbital vehicles, and dozens of people have already signed up for that trip of a lifetime.

(Page 2 of 2)

Virgin Galactic, brainchild of the British businessman Richard Branson, has collected $200,000 each from its first 100 customers, known as the "Founder" group, for a 150-minute flight. Space Adventures, which is charging around $100,000 for a 90-minute flight, said that over 200 clients had already made reservations.

Space Adventures' suborbital transporter, named the Explorer, was designed by Myasishchev Design Bureau, a leading Russian aerospace organization, and will have the capacity to carry a group of five people into space, while Virgin Galactic's spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo is being built by Scaled Composites, based in Mojave, California, according to plans drawn up by the veteran aerospace designer Burt Rutan.

In 2004, SpaceShipOne, which was also designed by Rutan and built by Scaled Composites, took its pilot into suborbital space twice in two weeks, winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize created eight years earlier to jump-start the private spaceflight industry.

SpaceShipTwo will seat six passengers and two pilots, and will be launched in flight from WhiteKnightTwo, a massive carrier craft. Test flights are slated to begin by early 2008 and commercial operations are planned to start as early as 2009.

Passengers can look forward to cushioned, reclining, form-fitting seats and lots of windows, by the looks of the cabin design unveiled in September. The seats, arranged in three rows, will start off in an upright position to cushion passengers from g-forces during launch. Then, when the engine cuts out, the seats will retract to a horizontal position, allowing passengers more room to move weightlessly around the cabin.

With the Founders group fully booked, Virgin has started to promote the next two passenger groups: Pioneers and Voyagers. The Pioneers will be the next 400 passengers, who will pay a deposit of between $100,000 and $175,000, while the Voyagers will follow the Pioneers, putting down a deposit of 10 percent of the ticket price, or about $20,000. Virgin is even allowing customers to redeem frequent flyer miles, with two million miles paying for the whole trip.

According to Branson, the company should be able to offer as many as 500 people the astronaut experience within its first year of commercial operations.

"We are just the start of what we believe will be a new era in the history of mankind, making the affordable exploration of space by human beings real," he said.

While the trip will remain the preserve of the rich in the next few years, tour operators expect that, in time, prices will drop. "We hope ticket prices will come down by the end of the first decade of flight as all profits prior to this will be reinvested in the business," Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, wrote in an e-mail message.

How far down? "On an unproven business model, we cannot accurately give that figure currently," he said.

五至六港人參加維珍太空遊

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(明報)2010年5月8日 星期六 15:40

內地報章報道,本港已有五、六個人報名,參加英國 維珍銀河公司的太空遊,每名遊客將花20萬美元 。

從維珍銀河網站上可看到,維珍銀河在亞洲僅有4個授權報名的代理點,分別為印度 、韓國 、日本 和香港。

設在香港的代理商美麗華旅行社 負責太空遊報名的陳穎文告訴上海 《新聞晨報》,香港人對太空遊非常感興趣,目前已有五、六位客人,確定報名並繳納了訂金。另外,台灣 也有3對夫婦報名了參加。

她說,目前主要接受香港人報名,大陸遊客並不在受理範圍之內。那是因為維珍太空遊飛船的發射基地設在美國 ,根據美國的相關規定,中國大陸公民未獲允許參加。

維珍銀河的太空船「企業號」,已於今年3月底首次試飛成功。「企業號」由母船「白衣騎士2號」攜帶上升,到達4.5萬呎的高空,整個過程持續了2小時54分鐘。

按照維珍銀河的設想,在真正太空遊時,母船攜帶「企業號」爬升到離地約5萬呎後,就會將「企業號」拋下,由它自帶的火箭推進器點火,在90秒內,以3倍音速高速飛行至離地36萬呎(相當於110公里)的高度。

維珍太空船「企業號」除了可攜帶2名機長外,還為乘客準備了6個座位。每名乘客都將擁有2個寬廣的窗戶,一個在旁邊,一個在頭頂,以欣賞壯觀的太空景象。

「企業號」到達離地110公里以上的太空亞軌道後,乘客就會有4至6分鐘時間,解開安全帶,在艙內四處飄蕩,盡情體驗無重力狀態,和欣賞展現眼前的地球。

每人700萬元 台灣3對夫妻 上太空

2010年 04月01日
【陳如嬌、許佳惠、韓政燕╱綜合報導】台灣人明年將首度上太空。英國維珍銀河公司(Virgin Galactic)推出全球首個太空旅行團,預計明年正式展開,取得國內代理權的大盟旅行社表示,台灣已有3對夫婦,包括外科醫師、竹科新貴、企業少東與他們的妻子共6人,報名參加這趟2個多小時,航程中並可體驗約6分鐘無重力狀態的太空旅行,旅費約700萬元台幣。6人最快明年中可上太空。

1985年首位上太空的華裔太空人王贛駿,祖籍是中國江西省,他雖然曾在台北市就讀師大附中,但後來移民美國,成為美國公民,當他上太空時已是美籍;因此明年6名進行太空之旅者將是首度上太空的台灣人。
過去曾有7名國際富豪進行太空旅行,這些旅行是由俄羅斯太空總署將聯合號太空船的座位出售,換取太空計劃經費。英國維珍集團旗下的維珍銀河公司,則推出全球首創的太空旅行團,上月22日完成測試。預計今年底營運,明年起開始載客上太空。
維珍銀河載客的「太空船2號」子機內有2名機師,可載6名乘客,每人費用20萬美元(約634萬元台幣),目前全球有330人預訂行程,收到逾14億元台幣定金。

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全球330人已報名

維珍太空旅行團的台灣代理業者大盟旅行社董事長溫忠助指出,台灣已報名並完成付款的3對夫婦,丈夫分別是外科醫師、竹科新貴與企業少東,但不便透露身分細節。據了解,這6人已玩遍世界各地,只剩太空旅行可滿足旅行欲望。
溫忠助表示,在全球已報名的330人中,台灣的6人排在第204至209號,以營運初期每周1團6人估算,台灣團約可在明年第35周(8月)上太空,維珍也考慮若運作順利可每周增加出團數,屆時6人可望提早至明年中上太空。國內另有7、8人有意參加,但考量安全問題,表示要等去過的人安全回來再報名。
溫忠助指出,報名者除需負擔台北到美國機票、食宿等費用,還須繳20萬美元、約634萬元台幣團費,總計約700萬元。另旅客從台北到美國的旅程有200萬到500萬元旅遊平安險,太空旅行無法向保險公司投保,但維珍銀河會提供2千萬元保險。
溫忠助指出,18歲以下青少年、有心臟病、重度高血壓或有暈眩毛病者不受理報名。啟航3天前,旅客須抵達美國新墨西哥州的美國太空港公司基地接受3天身體檢查,通過檢查後,再進行無重力太空飛行訓練,無法通過者可退費,但須扣1成團費。

感受6分鐘無重力

據規劃,太空之旅的旅客須穿特製的連身太空衣,繫上安全帶斜躺著上太空,就像電影《星艦奇航記》場景。1個多小時到達外太空後,會有約6分鐘處於無重力狀態,旅客可鬆開安全帶感受無重力帶來的快感。緊接返回地球,全程2個多小時。
據維珍銀河表示,載客的太空船分為子母機,旅客搭乘的子機「太空船2號」被母機帶到離地表16公里高空後,將脫離母機,燃起火箭推進器,在10秒內以超音速航向太空,旅客可感受3倍重力加速度的快感,在距離地表110公里的太空邊緣鳥瞰人類居住的地球。
溫忠助說,由於旅程很短,理論上應無用餐或如廁困擾,如真有需要,太空船艙內也有廁所,絕不會出現屎尿隨客人自由漂浮的噁心場景。

行前短暫訓練3天

中華民國航空醫學會前理事長溫德生表示,太空船脫離和重返地球時都會面臨重力作用,可能出現周邊血管不正常擴張的神經性暈眩和心跳緩慢等症狀,且太空無重力狀態會影響內耳平衡器官,導致嚴重嘔吐、噁心,因此太空旅行僅3天訓練,時間應該不夠。國家實驗研究院國家太空中心副主任陳紹興則說,從相關資訊看來,這個旅行應該很安全。
月薪2萬2千元的民眾楊珮珊笑說:「要工作一輩子,不吃不喝二十七、八年,才有機會上太空旅行,如果有這麼多錢,還是買房子較實在。」公務員葉佳魁也說:「幾分鐘的地球一瞥,過癮程度應不如花二、三百元看電影《阿凡達》吧! 」

太空之旅 第一個台灣團

◎成員:6人,為3對夫婦,45~56歲,分別為外科醫師、竹科新貴、企業少東
◎費用:約700萬元台幣(其中團費約634萬元,其餘為頭等或商務艙機票、住宿、保險費等)
◎訓練:啟航3天前須先抵美國太空港公司基地接受體檢、無重力飛行翻滾訓練等;無法通過訓練可退團,但須扣1成約63萬元費用
◎時間:預計明年中
資料來源:英國維珍銀河公司在台總代理大盟旅行社 (http://www2.royal-china.com.tw/Space_Trip.html)

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台灣人遊太空行程

資料來源:大盟旅行社、《蘋果》資料室

今夏即可載客 太空婚禮不是夢
分類:新奇.趣味
2008/04/21 09:58

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英國維珍銀河公司的「太空船二號」(SS2)計畫進行順利,今夏即可載客試飛,並有一對情侶定下明年的太空之旅,打算來場太空婚禮,而維珍集團老闆布蘭森也可望成為主持太空婚禮的第一人。
維珍銀河公司發言人表示,目前訂位者有兩對喜氣洋洋的客人,一對計畫進行太空蜜月、一對是在天願做比翼鳥的情侶,計畫在地球上空11萬公尺定終身。
維珍的太空觀光票價昂貴,每人要20萬美元(約台幣606萬元),但已有200多人付了訂金以確定機位,還有8萬多有興趣乘坐SS2一圓太空夢的人進行登記。
將在SS2處女航度蜜月的是維珍銀河公司顧問懷塞德和新婚妻子蘿芮塔。至於第一對太空新人是誰,維珍銀河並未透露,但布蘭森可能取得臨時執照來主持婚禮。
這不是58歲的布蘭森第一次客串「牧師」,去年他在網路教會取得授權,在舊金山飛拉斯維加斯的維珍客機上,為維珍的美國行銷主管帕帕鐸諾納斯主持空中婚禮;據說Google創辦人佩吉在加勒比海小島結婚,布蘭森也幫忙主持。
維珍銀河公司今年1月展示了SS2號模型,讓太空旅行進一步接近實現。SS2號由兩名飛行員駕駛,可搭乘六名乘客,先由運載飛機「白色騎士二號」載至1萬5240公尺高空,SS2 脫離母機後發射火箭,以音速三倍的高速直線上升,至11萬公尺後減速滑行,乘客可經歷約五分鐘的無重力狀態,並欣賞地球景色。下降時,乘客可一嘗30秒的6g重力的滋味,整個行程預計約兩個半小時。
維珍銀河目前還不確定太空旅行何時可以成行,但預計在明年第二季,第一年可運載500位太空觀光客。想一圓太空夢,除了要有錢,身體也要能承受得住6g重力才行,必須參加三天的訓練。
目前訂位的據說有美國影集「朱門恩怨」女星維多利亞普林西波、不良於行的物理學家霍金等。 65歲大壽 霍金許願上太空
|[pic] |
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〔編譯陳泓達/綜合報導〕英國知名物理暨數學大師史蒂芬.霍金(見圖,法新社檔案照)八日度過六十五歲生日,展現他理論與實踐合一的壯志豪情:今年將進行無重力飛行訓練,以期二○○九年參加英國維珍集團民用太空計畫,探索無垠宇宙的奧妙。 無重力飛行即利用某種特製飛機以四十五度角的拋物線方式向上攀升,當飛機抵達拋物線頂端時,機上乘客因擺脫地心引力而產生短暫的飄浮感。目前全球至少有四家民營企業提供高速拋物線零重力飛行,只要數千美元代價,即可獲得二十五秒零地心引力的飄浮感。 維珍總裁邀請大師圓夢 英國每日電訊報八日報導,霍金將參加維珍集團旗下「維珍銀河公司」的載人太空飛行計畫。去年九月,維珍集團總裁布蘭森爵士宣佈維珍銀河的民用太空船模型,目前尚未完工的「太空船二號」,將在二○○八年搭載六名乘客登上低地球軌道。 太空船二號將由母船搭載升空,在五萬英尺高空脫離母船,然後登上約三十六萬英尺高的太空,飛行時速為二千五百英里,是音速的三倍有餘。維珍銀河初步規劃建造五艘民用太空船,據稱目前已有逾萬人表達有意搭乘該公司的太空航班,部分旅客甚至已繳交訂金。 目前載人太空飛行的代價約十萬英鎊(約台幣六百三十二萬元),但布蘭森已承諾將贊助霍金的太空之旅。 霍金打算和家人一道低調慶祝生日,他表示無意在短期內退休。「劍橋大學的屆退年限是六十七歲,但我還是會繼續工作。」霍金的科普暢銷書「時間簡史」,已銷售一千萬冊,他目前正埋頭撰寫兩本新書,他和女兒合寫的「George’s Secret Key To The Universe」將在今年十月出版,而他的新書「The Grand Design」,則是以科學哲學為主題,預定明年問世。 物理大師 自己就是生命奇蹟 霍金二十一歲時就被診斷出罹患運動神經元疾病,當時以為他的生命只剩一到兩年。在霍金生日當天,英國皇家學會會長黎斯爵士發表賀詞,向霍金的生命力和學術成就致敬。霍金因罹患MND已喪失語言能力,必須仰賴一套特製的智能系統與外界溝通:他眼鏡的右邊鏡片上裝有傳感器,可通過眼球的轉動和臉部肌肉的變化,判斷想說的話,然後通過電腦語音發聲。霍金表示將提供自己DNA,作為MND協會贊助研究專案的樣本,希望藉由基因密碼掃描找出MND的成因。他說,MND和多發性硬化症一樣普遍,大眾對它的認識和警覺性卻遠不及後者。

|維珍太空婚禮明年啟航 |
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|http://paper.wenweipo.com [2008-05-28] |
|英 國維珍銀河公司創辦人布蘭森決定實現人類在太空舉行婚禮的夢想,計劃於2009年在維珍銀河太空飛船首次亞軌道飛行中,為一對新人舉辦婚禮。 |
| 58歲的布蘭森計劃在屬下公司研製的太空飛船上主持一場婚禮,成為全球首名「太空婚禮主禮人」。 |
| 維珍銀河公司發言人最近接受英國傳媒訪問時說,一對新人已提交舉行太空婚禮的申請,另有一對夫婦則希望在太空進行蜜月旅行。 |
| 不過,在此之前,布蘭森首先要獲得有關當局的許可。 |
| 這名發言人透露,那對願花費20萬英鎊(約306萬港元)在距離地球表面100多公里處度蜜月的夫婦,正是維珍銀河公司顧問懷特賽德斯和他的新婚妻子伊達爾戈。 |
| 迄今,維珍銀河已接獲約200人預定了太空旅行艙位,旅客名單上不乏社會名人,包括英國安德魯王子的女兒比阿特麗斯希望成為首位上太空的王室成 |
|150萬飛上太空體驗無重 |

英國狂人Richard Branson一手創立的維珍航空,可載人到倫敦、悉尼、納米比亞……,今勻腦袋轉到地球以外的銀河,二○一○年開始集團旗下的維珍銀河(Virgin Galactic),正式載人遊太空,在距地約一百公里處體驗太空無重狀態,浮游太空看銀河星宿。
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Richard玩完飛機玩太空船,他和家人將會成為首批太空旅客。

四分鐘太空邊界翻觔斗

兩小時可以飛去上海,亦可飛去曼谷,改坐維珍銀河私家出品的太空船,兩小時航程可直達離地太空邊界。身價七億八千萬港元的白騎士二號,造型奇特,連體式噴射機設計,屬全球最大的全碳纖維複合材料飛機,遊客坐在兩個機艙之間懸吊運載的太空船二號,每次可載六人,當母船駛至十五公里上空,太空船靠混合火箭沖爬升至地球上空一百一十公里處,亦即國際公認的太空邊界飛行,即可漫遊太空六分鐘,其中四分鐘可解開安全帶體驗珍貴的無重狀態,隨便翻觔斗、凌空飛行、扮十字懸垂,但記緊拍下窗外太空和地球表面的美態,整個太空之旅歷時兩小時,預計最快到二○一○年才成行。

漫遊太空旅費每位廿萬美元(即約百五萬港元),年滿十八歲人士身體健康即可,不設年齡上限,升空前需進行三天特訓,包括健康檢查、團隊訓練及無重狀態下的適應訓練。自問有膽又有錢,可於香港區指定的太空旅遊銷售商美麗華旅遊報名,現在全球已有二百五十名客人準備做太空遊客,還有八萬五千人登記,可惜大家無緣成為首批太空旅客,皆因老闆Richard明年率先要帶同家人升空旅行!

|[pic] |[pic] |
|太空船內設計多個觀景窗,讓遊客極速欣賞太空美景。 |白騎士二號母體屬連體式噴射機,機艙之間懸吊運載乘客的太 |
| |空船二號。 |

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香港首位女飛機師高佩雲,將是首百名升空遊客之一。

花花公子伙維珍建太空夜總會 • 新增回應 • 推薦不推薦 • 分享 •
[pic][pic]【明報專訊】有沒有想過在太空中過燈紅酒綠的生活?成人雜誌《花花公子》計劃給你這個機會,前提當然是你有錢。

設無重力舞池「人體輪盤」賭場

《花花公子》3月號披露,將與英國維珍航空老闆布蘭森旗下的維珍銀河(Virgin Galactic)合作,在太空上建立「花花公子夜總會」。《生活科學》網站報道,這個構想中的超級夜總會,將有無重力舞池、「人體輪盤」賭場與高檔餐廳。《花花公子》的招牌兔女郎當然少不了,她們會在舞池服侍賓客。情侶們也可以在夜總會裏一邊深情對望,一邊遠眺地球。

《花花公子》主編耶連內克(Jimmy Jellinek)表示﹕「維珍銀河將成為世界上首間營運商業太空航線的企業,《花花公子》渴望與它合作,建造一個終極星際娛樂勝地。」他形容,這座太空夜總會是「天堂中的天堂」,將會「超越任何旅客最狂野的幻想」。根據初步計劃,太空「花花公子夜總會」將會像太空站般在地球軌道上巡航地球,但《花花公子》的寫手幻想,「夜總會」也可以駛往其他星體。

「天堂中的天堂 超越最狂野幻想」

美國太空總署的科學家亦有參與計劃,協助解決技術問題。到這個太空酒池肉林玩一趟的花費未定,但維珍銀河為其籌備中的太空旅遊預售套票的價格為20萬英鎊(約246萬港元),若要在旅程補上活色生香的經驗,恐怕添費不菲。維珍旗下的商業太空船預計在今年首度試航。

碧昂斯Jay-Z要合拍太空MV 將與維珍公司合作(圖)

2012-01-13 10:19:49 來源:人民網 編輯:趙丹丹 [pic]發表評論 進入論壇>>

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碧昂斯和Jay-Z在太空中拍音樂視頻的合成效果圖

英國《太陽報》1月12日報道稱,美國流行歌后、性感女神碧昂斯想在太空上跟自己的丈夫合拍一支音樂視頻。

與維珍公司合作

現在,碧昂斯和丈夫Jay-Z的唱片製作人正在向理查德·布蘭森的維珍銀河公司詢問,希望能在該公司的航太飛船上拍攝一支音樂視頻。

維珍銀河公司將於今年晚些時候啟動商業太空之旅業務,該公司將發射有6個乘客座位的飛船,將乘客送往太空。乘客們在太空中能感受到6分鐘的失重狀態,碧昂斯和丈夫的音樂視頻將在這段時間內拍攝。

有消息來源稱:“如果說有人能有資格在太空中錄製音樂視頻的話,非碧昂斯和Jay-Z莫屬,他們在太空拍攝音樂視頻是水到渠成的事。”

於此同時,自從1月7日他們的女兒出生後,30歲的流行天后碧昂斯和42歲的說唱歌手Jay-Z已在女兒身上花費了100萬英鎊。碧昂斯和丈夫為女兒買的禮物包括:價值40萬英鎊的純金製成的搖搖馬、價值1.3萬英鎊的嬰兒床和價值1萬英鎊的鑲有水晶的嬰兒用高腳椅。

豪華病房中產子

碧昂斯自從懷孕以來,就備受公眾和媒體的關注,還曾被人懷疑借腹生子。女兒出生後,Jay-Z將他們夫妻倆孕育孩子時的坎坷和悲傷寫成了新歌《榮耀》,歌中透露就在這次懷孕之前,碧昂斯曾經歷過一次流產。

據報道,碧昂斯此次懷孕格外謹慎,因此花銷也相當驚人。為了迎接女兒的出生,這對名人夫婦在紐約倫諾克斯希爾醫院包下了兩間豪華病房。一名醫院工作人員透露稱:“一個月前,工人們將6至8間病房改裝成了兩個套間,所有的費用都是由碧昂斯夫婦承擔的。”這兩間豪華病房完工後一直空著,直到碧昂斯臨盆。

不過碧昂斯和女兒出院後,這兩間豪華病房將如何處置目前還無人知曉。

封鎖病房遭投訴

在紐約倫諾克斯希爾醫院生產期間,碧昂斯夫婦還遭遇了兩起投訴。紐約州衛生部調查了這兩起投訴,最後於11日晚宣佈撤銷投訴。

傳聞這對樂壇最強夫妻豪花100萬英鎊包下醫院整層,並派出多名保鏢封鎖新生兒病房,防止媒體偷拍,此舉被指阻礙醫院的正常運作,使部分醫生未能如常探訪病人。但醫院否認了這一說法,只透露這對夫婦包下了豪華病房套間。

一名在該醫院生產的母親羅茲·納什·庫隆稱,自己于2011年12月28日出生的雙胞胎女兒當時就在新生兒病房裏。從1月6日碧昂斯入住醫院開始,新生兒病房的安保就非常嚴格,別人想要見一面自己的孩子都很難,“就好像美國總統來了一樣”。

對於碧昂斯夫婦“搞名人特權”的抱怨,醫院方面也在著手調查。發言人芭芭拉·奧斯本稱:“新生兒病房中共有10對夫婦的孩子,我們已經跟這10對夫婦中的7對談過話,不過沒人表示在看望孩子時曾遭到碧昂斯夫婦保鏢的阻攔。”記者 李欣 編譯

|【經濟日報╱本報訊】 |
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|天下文化/提供 |
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| |
|書名:大想法策略 |
|作者:史密特(Bernd H. Schmitt) |
|出版:天下文化 |
|麥可波特在傳統的策略著述中,把策略分成成本領先、差異化、聚焦三大類。他說,這三大類策略可以一而再、再而三,在各個行業中看到。其他的策略思想家也提出本身的策略大 |
|類或者「價值信條」,如營運卓越、產品創新和親近顧客等。 |
|一家公司的例行策略,是可以採行這些策略大類,卻很難用它們來發展大想法策略。 |
|因為大想法畢竟不是普通的策略。它是指重新思考業務。必須經常結合一些傳統的策略,或者與傳統的策略大相逕庭,或者把它們推到極限,或者整個超越它們。大 |
|想法需要用到基礎廣泛的模式,顯示出新的構想和以前的業務實務之間存有什麼樣的關係。它們是否向一項業務或者業界既有的慣例挑戰?它們是否把新的實務收進 |
|現有的實務之中?它們是否將現有的實務推到極限?它們是否一舉遠遠超越現有實務的界限? |
|因此,我為大想法提出四個新的策略大類:「對立」、「整合」、「精髓」、「超越」。所有這些方法都屬大想法,但它們是用不同的方式去思考的大想法,而且風險高低不等。 |
|對立策略 |
|這類策略是在一個行業中,提出和既有業務策略對立的策略─有時南轅北轍,有時則接近這種程度。MINI汽車策略,也屬對立策略。就在整個汽車業沉迷於產銷 大型多功能運動休旅 |
|車之際,這款小型車卻在世界各地大獲青睞。「自己動手做」的概念也是一例。許多行業都強調對顧客提供周全的服務,自己動手做的概念,正 |
|好和一般做生意及提供服務的方式背道而馳。這個概念被業者成功的用於家居產品(宜家),以及零售銀行、航空公司櫃檯報到等。 |
|整合策略 |
|這類策略把看似不相容的概念湊在一起,證明它們不像原先所想的那樣水火不容、南轅北轍或者彼此矛盾。我們可能以低成本提供優異的服務、大量銷售奢侈品,或者以很快的速度 |
|生產高品質產品。不必在撙節成本和差異化、追求營運卓越和親近顧客之間委決不下。 |
|採用這類策略的訣竅,不只在於兩個看似對立的東西可以拉在一起,大想法更隱藏在「怎麼做」裡面。重新思考服務的意涵(不見得一定要有人與人的接觸,看看亞 |
|馬遜網路書店的經營方式就知道)之後,也有可能以很高的效率和很低的成本,提供優異的服務。把奢侈品從用來彰顯名流的身分地位,轉化為人人都想要的名牌時 |
|尚象徵,也可以廣開銷路(看看普拉達和古馳的例子就知道)。或者把手工製造的商品,改用精密儀器和機器生產,也能以很快的速度產銷高品質產品。 |
|精髓策略 |
|精髓(essence)一詞是指一樣東西不可或缺的必要成分,並把它推向極限。精髓策略的例子不可勝數。美國最大的平價零售商沃爾瑪(Wal- Mart),便是低價零售商的精髓,它總 |
|是在辦得到的地方,盡量擠壓成本。健全食品是「天然食品」的精髓。Google是不做第二人想的終極搜尋引擎,不 像其他的搜尋入口網站那樣雜亂。 |
|想運用精髓策略,必須完全控制缺之不可的能力。比方說,阿貝克隆比這家賣性感休閒服的精髓零售商,就完全掌控了商品、商店和行銷的設計與生產。 |
|超越策略 |
|超越(transcendence)一詞,讓人聯想到「勝過」和「高於一般的範圍」。超越帶有「外在世界」的質感,而且落在比較高的層次。就企業策略來說,我們可以拿這個名詞來指遠遠|
|超過某一業務和所屬行業既有界限的策略。 |
|黑莓機超越了行動語音通訊和簡訊傳送的業界界限,在辦公室和住家以外的地方也能收發電子郵件。諾貝爾獎得主尤努斯的「鄉村銀行」構想,即超越了信貸業務和 |
|我們所以為的經濟發展方式。這家銀行提供微型貸款幫助窮人,並且獲得利潤。布蘭森的「維珍銀河」漫遊太空業務計畫,遠遠超過一般的空中旅行,製造人生難得 一次的體驗。 |
|此外,大想法帶有風險,但比較這四大類策略,我們發現它們的相對風險不同。對立和整合這兩類策略,可能引來競爭對手強烈且立即的反應。企業採用這兩類策略,都會踩進市場 |
|上現有業者的地盤。 |
|後兩類策略的影響比較不露痕跡。精髓策略不致侵犯別人,只將現有的市場狀況推到極限,超越策略則創造一個新空間,現有業者還沒有大舉進軍這個空間。 |
|因此,競爭對手的反應比較弱且來得比較晚。在是否應該取得新的內部能力,或者現有能力是否足夠方面,各類策略也有所不同。 |
|精髓和整合策略通常可以借重現有的能力;對立和超越則需要新的能力。 |
|精髓策略的風險最低(依賴現有的資源,而且只引來競爭對手微弱的反應),對立策略的風險則最高(需要取得新能力,而且會招致競爭對手強烈的反應)。整合和超越落在這兩個 |
|風險極端之間。 |

英国维珍集团(Virgin Group)

英国维珍集团网站:http://www.virgin.com/ 英文

|目录 |
|[隐藏] |
|1 英国维珍集团简介 |
|2 维珍发展 |
|2.1 行行勇试身手 |
|2.2 创造新商业模式 |
|2.3 要让员工快乐 |
|3 维珍:永远的“补缺者” |
|3.1 补缺——找到利基市场 |
|3.2 不拘一格的“品牌领先者” |
|4 维珍品牌 (由不同股东拥有) |

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英国维珍集团简介

维珍集团 (Virgin Group)是英国多家使用维珍作为品牌名称的企业所组成的集团,由著名的英国商人理查德·布兰森爵士创办。集团业务范围包括旅游、航空、娱乐业等。

理查德·布兰森爵士对维珍品牌拥有控制权,但其属下机构的组成则各有不同且甚为复杂。每家维珍集团旗下的公司皆为独立经营,部份由理查德·布兰森全资拥有,但其他则只有一部份股权。他亦有把品牌授权予购买他旗下公司部门的机构,如维珍电台(今苏格兰传媒一部份)及维珍音乐(今EMI一部份),亦有一些例外,全部原本均属维珍全资附属公司。

要理解维珍集团的结构,可以把理查德·布兰森理解为风险基金投资者,为旗下所有投资使用同一品牌名称。

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维珍发展

维珍集团是英国最大的私营企业,旗下有近200家公司。维珍集团董事长兼总裁理查德·布兰森,17岁起家,是当今世界上最富传奇色彩和个性魅力的亿万富翁之一,英国女王授予他爵士头衔。

像很多“书读得不好鬼点子倒挺多”的孩子那样,理查德·布兰森从小学习就不好。 17岁那年,他拿着母亲所给的充作邮资和电话费的4英镑,与一个朋友在半间地下室里创办了一份面向年轻人的《学生》杂志。1968年,杂志正式发行。布兰森就读的斯顿公学校长为刊物写的贺词是:布兰森,我向你祝贺!我预言,你小子日后不是坐班房,就会发大财!

刊物发行后引起轰动。名噪一时的摇滚巨星滚石乐队主唱米克·贾格尔和甲壳虫主唱约翰·列侬都曾接受过该杂志专访。列侬还专门为该刊创作了一首歌曲。几年后,《学生》面临困境。布兰森又突发灵感,决定在该杂志的封底做广告,低价邮售音乐带。由于当时英国专卖店销售音带的价格昂贵,他的创举引起了极大反响,订单源源不断寄来。

到1972年,布兰森在英国各地开设了数家维珍音带连锁店,并成立了一间音带录制室。1973年,首张录制的迈克·奥德菲尔德的《管钟》专辑一炮打响。随后,菲尔·柯林斯、博伊·乔治、滚石等大牌明星和乐队纷纷与之签约。至此,维珍品牌推出,布兰森迈出了他成功的第一步。其后的10年间,维珍唱片在英国娱乐界成为了举足轻重的品牌。

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行行勇试身手

1984年,布兰森进入了门槛非常高的航空业,成立了“维珍大西洋航空公司”。这在当时被很多业内人士看作是“自杀行为”。为此,他还不惜与英国航空业老大英航打了一场轰动一时的官司。最后,他赢得胜利,保住了在大西洋两岸的运营权。

1994年,布兰森又成立“维珍可乐公司”,目前维珍可乐在欧洲的销售量比百事可乐还要多;1996年成立了维珍铁路公司,并雄心勃勃地要将其发展成为全欧洲服务质量最好的公司;1999年宣布成立维珍电信公司,并致力使其成为全球性的移动电话公司。

布兰森自认为是个对科技不在行的人,他对电脑也不精通。但近年来,他在电子商务和网络上倾注了大量心血。维珍公司网上服务已包括金融服务、机票车票预订、购物等。他计划使维珍赶上英国数字化的潮流,使维珍公司的网站跻身世界10大网站之列,使英国和全世界的顾客能从维珍网上购买到从汽车到CD在内的一切商品。

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创造新商业模式

布兰森经常说,“我要让维珍品牌像可口可乐一样名扬全球”。而可口可乐一直坚守着软饮料的阵地,从不敢涉足自己不擅长的领域,生怕破坏自己的品牌形象。而维珍的触手简直无处不在,从唱片到航空、铁路、电信、大卖场、婚纱、影院、金融服务、可乐……维珍提供的产品和服务基本上涵盖了人们生活的方方面面。

其实布兰森并非人们想像的那样疯狂,而是一位颇为理智清醒的管理者和营销人。布兰森经常形容维珍集团是一只“跟在大企业屁股后面抢东西吃的小狗”。他有意选定表面风平浪静而消费者并没有获得满意服务的行业为进军目标。“与那些财大气粗且惰性十足的品牌相竞争,很容易做到让顾客感到在我们这儿消费是物有所值。”

如维珍航空在澳大利亚开创飞机上不提供餐饮服务、但实行低廉票价的服务举措。维珍移动电信进入美国市场时,是首家提供预付费业务的移动通信运营商。布兰森作为企业家和商人的最大天赋就在于他注重从消费者的角度考虑问题,而那些不循规蹈矩的消费者就是他的目标。

这位最能经受风险的企业家对风险相当重视:“我做每一件事情都要检查不利的方面、危险和可能出岔子的地方。”当年开办航空公司,为规避风险他只买了一架飞机,并且和波音公司达成了一项协议,“如果事情办不成能把飞机送回去”。进入移动通信行业时,布兰森认为建网不如租网,将自己的品牌借给了英国第五大移动电话运营商 One2One 公司,成为第一家没有自己网络基础设施的移动电话运营商。

布兰森进入每个行业时,并不是新产品的创造者,但是却创造了新的商业模式,就像戴尔电脑那样。

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要让员工快乐

在解释公司为何取“Virgin”这个富有争议的词汇为名时他说,“处女”这个名字性感,易产生联想并过目不忘。其次,“处女”意味着一种生活态度:自由自在的生活方式、叛逆、开放、崇尚自由以及极度珍贵的浪漫。当大多数消费者把维珍看成品质、价值、创新、娱乐、挑战的代名词,维珍品牌就成为“一种终身关系”,这样就不会限制它跨行业的延伸。

布兰森是维珍品牌真正惟一的代言人。他一头灰白的长发,永远浮现在脸上的笑容和敢于冒险、特立独行的举止,是对维珍品牌的最好诠释。在英国,维珍的品牌认知率达到了96%,而其中有95%的人能正确地说出维珍的创办人就是布兰森。这种由创办者代言品牌的现象以前是很少见的,主要出现在奢侈品行业,如可可·香奈尔等。

值得注意的是,在每一次维珍品牌延伸时,布兰森都会身体力行地进行一次独特的作秀。他曾经只穿三角短裤和美国肥皂剧《海滩护卫队》的女主角帕美拉·安德森合拍维珍健力饮料的广告;他曾和20个几乎全裸的模特打着“所见即所得”的标语在伦敦街头为维珍手机做促销宣传;他开着坦克驶入纽约时代广场宣传维珍唱片连锁进军美国;他飞到新德里,骑着一头白象到印度国会演讲;他曾经沿着英吉利海峡的沙滩裸跑。

正是他这些出格的举动,使得他的红白相间的维珍品牌在“英国男人最知名品牌评选中”排名第一,在“英国女人最知名品牌评选中”位列第三。而他本人,在BBC2001年进行的一项民意调查中,被评为最具启发性人物的第二名,高于耶稣。

布兰森并没有把自己当成是企业的英雄。他认为维珍成功的要素“在于你拥有什么样的员工。如果你的员工很快乐,每天面带微笑,以工作为乐,他们就会有出色的表现。顾客自然也会喜欢和你的企业打交道。我花很大力气去激励员工,每个月我都会亲自写信给他们。我们没有正式的董事会议,谁有什么想法都可以直接打电话或写信告诉我,取得我的认可。”他把在与英国航空公司的诽谤案中获得的61万英镑的赔偿金与当时所有的维珍员工平均分配。每一位维珍员工都得到了被称为“英国航空公司津贴”的166英镑。这件事情传递给所有员工的信息是:他们一起赢得了一次巨大的胜利。

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维珍:永远的“补缺者”

补缺战略:做一只跟在大企业屁股后面抢东西吃的小狗,但以鲜明的创新风格、自己独特的品牌内涵,为特定的目标客户服务。

补缺结果:维珍品牌在英国的认知度达到了96%,从金融服务业到航空业,从铁路运输业到饮料业,消费者公认这个品牌代表了质量高、价格廉,而且时刻紧随时尚的消费趋势,这是其他品牌无法与之相比的。

从1970年到现在,维珍集团成为了英国最大的私人企业,旗下拥有200多家大小公司,涉及航空、金融、铁路、唱片、婚纱直至避孕套,俨然半个国民生产部门。布兰森曾经说过,如果有谁愿意的话,他可以这样度过一生:喝着维珍可乐长大,到维珍唱片大卖场买维珍电台上放过的唱片,去维珍院线看电影,通过 virgin.net交上一个女朋友,和她坐维珍航空去度假,享受维珍假日无微不至的服务,然后由维珍新娘安排一场盛大的婚礼,幸福地消费大量 virgin避孕套,直到最后拿着维珍养老保险进坟墓。当然,如果不幸福的话,维珍还提供了大量的伏特加以供选择。

红白相间的维珍品牌在英国的认知度达到了96%,在“英国男人最知名品牌评选”中排名第一,在“英国女人最知名品牌评选”中位列第三。但是,维珍产品在所处的每一个行业里都不是名列前茅的老大或老二,而是一只“跟在大企业屁股后面抢东西吃的小狗”。这正是维珍的老板布兰森本人所期望的。

维珍总是选择进入那些已经相对成熟的行业,给消费者提供创新的产品和服务。可以说,在它进入的每一个行业里,维珍都成功的扮演了“市场补缺者”和“品牌领先者”的角色。

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补缺——找到利基市场

维珍集团进入每一个行业时,很多分析家认为市场已很成熟,已经被一些大集团瓜分的差不多了。维珍集团在这个时候进入市场先天就已经落后了,如果不想捡别人剩下的东西吃,只能找到“利基市场”,只能创新。这正是科特勒关于“落后进入战略”(Laggard-Entry Strategy)的核心所在。

布兰森认为,在一个成熟的市场环境里竞争,竞争的压力翻过来加剧了企业间的相互模仿,追求标准、降低成本、回避风险成了企业的游戏规则,企业自身的创新潜力收到了压制,而消费者只能在价格上进行比较。这导致了相当糟糕的局面:管理者思想僵化、新的创意越来越少。这正是维珍的机会。维珍提供给目标顾客的是那些老大们没有想到,或者是不愿意去做,而消费者其实很欢迎、很需要、能够从中得利的产品和服务。

维珍集团的经营虽然天马行空,涵盖了生活的方方面面,但是所有产品和服务的目标客户群都锁定在了“不循规蹈矩的、反叛的年轻人”身上。它把握了现代人注重享受生活、体验生活、追求个性的心理,赢得了年轻客户的认同和信任,通过长期对他们的服务和研究,掌握了关于他们职业、兴趣的信息,让他们成为了维珍集团源源不断的财富源泉。

如维珍移动采用横向、纵向市场并重的策略,在对市场、客户进行细分之后,将单一的移动通信产品或服务有机地捆绑打包,形成具有维珍品牌特色的增值服务产品,再通过在线和离线两个渠道进行销售。从纵向市场看,维珍移动把其客户群分成四大类:体育爱好者、文艺爱好者、旅行者、家居者。再针对这些细分的市场把其服务分成三大类:标准服务、特别服务、其他服务。标准服务包括:免费留言信箱、短消息、来电显示、来电等候、传真及数据、无线上网、MP3下载播放、电话热线以及服务质量保证,这些服务都是标准化的。特别服务则是定制化的服务,包括通过短消息给兴趣群体传送即时新闻、体育比赛、文娱项目的售票信息、无线电广播、基于地理位置的信息、交通信息、手机购物等。其他服务则给客户和合作伙伴提供了开发交叉销售、升级销售的机会,例如客户可购买手机保险、汽车路上修理应急服务、预付费卡月度明细账单、长达三个星期的语音留言保存以及国际漫游等等。他的电信促销以非常趣味的方式开展,并将“一种新的生活方式”概念销售给年轻人。如将预设的配置装在手机里,只要打个特定的号码,有关的商品可以送到顾客手中。维珍移动还与其集团旗下深受年轻人欢迎的航空公司、旅游业务公司、音乐公司等相互合作,捆绑销售,为年轻的电信用户提供不同的优惠与配套服务。

战略规划协会的一项研究发现,中小市场的投资回报达到了27%,超过大市场投资回报16个百分点。这是一项很惊人的发现,研究者认为,造成这个结果的主要原因就是服务于中小市场的公司往往和顾客的沟通更多,更加了解顾客的想法和需要。维珍公司就是把自己定位在了“服务于年轻人的专家”,由此在不同的领域所向披靡。

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不拘一格的“品牌领先者”

虽然在各个行业里维珍集团都不是行业老大,但是布兰森却提出了维珍要做年轻人心目中的“品牌领先者”(Brand Leading)。

《企业家》的作家保罗·罗杰斯认为“维珍在英国的商业领域中是一个独一无二的现象。基本上说,它是一个非常重要的无形资产 – 它的品牌。从金融服务业到航空业,从铁路运输业到饮料业,维珍时刻时消费者心中公认的品牌。在他们脑海中,这个品牌代表了质量高、价格廉,而且时刻紧随时尚的消费趋势,这是其他品牌无法与之比拟的。”这是建立在布兰森称之为“品牌信誉”的基础之上,完全不同于传统意义上的那种产品与服务性品牌。

布兰森认为,这种跨企业结构和产品领域的品牌发展思维可以在现代日本的企业管理模式中得到很好的体现。如一个骑着雅马哈牌摩托车的人回到家后可以弹着雅马哈电子琴;或者一边听者三菱音响,一边开着三菱汽车经过一家三菱银行。在这种模式中,不同的公司完全可以在同一品牌下共同发展。

在维珍看来,一个公司能够树立良好的品牌信誉主要是基于以下五个关键因素:产品物有所值、保证产品质量、时刻创新、挑战精神,还有就是很难定义但却可以感觉得到的一点 —— 带给消费者一种情趣。

在传统公司看来,布兰森的种种举动和创意会损害品牌形象。他们的创意和公关原则是品牌决不能和不健康的东西联系在一起,如性、战争、同性恋等。包括可口可乐在内的大公司都设有专门的品牌监测人员时时关注自己的品牌在互联网上的表现,一旦自己的牌和一些涉及不健康的网站发生联系,这些跨国公司便会采取相应措施消除这种联想。

维珍的做法恰恰相反。在波斯湾战争期间它斡旋于英国和伊拉克之间,布兰森亲自带领他的飞机直接进入巴格达接回人质;布兰森为了宣传维珍集团在英吉利海峡浅滩裸跑;维珍还开了全球第一家同性恋用品专卖店。维珍的广告和促销活动也总是标新立异。1991年维珍开通伦敦到美国波士顿航线的告知广告,广告上只有一个特写镜头把一双硕大无比的穿着鲜红袜子的脚伸在了受众面前。因为维珍大西洋航空公司在航空史上第一次取消头等舱的做法,让无数坐经济舱的乘客第一次可以将双腿伸展开来了。维珍可乐的平面广告上是被压碎的可口可乐和百事可乐易拉罐,以显示维珍可乐在产品测试中结果超过了这两个老大。维珍彩色饮料在进入保守的台湾市场举行促销活动时,4个女模特身上画着象征维珍饮料的人体彩绘,在当地引起了不小的震动。

这些看似疯狂的举动其实都是为了更好的诠释维珍的品牌形象。经过多年的努力,它们使维珍品牌对于年轻消费者来说,有了一个很重要的附加值——维珍同时还意味着一种生活态度:自由自在的生活方式、叛逆、开放、崇尚自由以及极度珍贵的浪漫。

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维珍品牌 (由不同股东拥有)

• 维珍行动(Virgin Active) - 分布于南非、意大利和英国的健康俱乐部连锁 • 维珍美国(Virgin America) - 2006年在美国成立的低价国内航线 • 维珍大西洋航空(Virgin Atlantic Airways) - 基于伦敦希思罗机场的国际航空公司 • 维珍气球航线(Virgin Balloon Flights) - 热气球运营商 • 维珍蓝天(Virgin Blue) - 营运于澳大利亚及南太平洋地区的航空公司 • 太平洋蓝天(Pacific Blue)- 营运于新西兰的航线 • 波利尼西亚蓝天(Polynesian Blue) - 萨摩亚低价国际航线 • 维珍出版(Virgin Books) - 书籍出版、零售、发行业务 • 维珍婚礼(Virgin Brides) - 设立于曼彻斯特的婚礼用品店 • 维珍汽车(Virgin Cars) - 英国廉价汽车销售商 • 维珍电影(Virgin Cinema) - 已停业 • 维珍化妆品(Virgin Cosmetics) - 专门于网上或店铺销售 Virgin Vie 牌化妆品 • 维珍数码(Virgin Digital) - 网上数码音乐销售业务 • 维珍饮料(Virgin Drinks) - 生产包括“维珍可乐”在内的软饮料 • 维珍电器(Virgin Electronics) - 原先为“维珍脉冲公司”,主要销售日用电器 • 维珍体验日(Virgin Experience Days) - 组织各种公司或消费者体验活动 • 维珍特快(Virgin Express) - 廉价的欧洲航线 • 维珍银河(Virgin Galactic) - 商务航线运营商 • 维珍游戏(Virgin Games) - 在线游戏与赌博业务 • 维珍假日(Virgin Holidays) - 英国旅游中介 • 维珍互动(Virgin Interactive) - 游戏发行商 • 维珍珠宝(Virgin Jewellery) - 珠宝装饰销售 • 维珍限量版(Virgin Limited Edition) - 高级酒店业务 • 维珍房车(Virgin Limobike) - 位于伦敦的自行车服务 • 维珍房车(Virgin Limousines)- 于旧金山与北加利福尼亚运营的客车服务业务 • 维珍大卖场(Virgin Megastores) - 于主要街道及网络销售CD, DVD和游戏的业务 • 维珍移动(Virgin Mobile) - 移动电话网络供应商 • 维珍理财(Virgin Money) - 财经服务 • 维珍信用卡(Virgin Credit Card) • 维珍尼日利亚(Virgin Nigeria) - 于尼日利亚运营的国际和国内航线 • 维珍游戏(Virgin Play) - 位于西班牙的游戏发行商 • 维珍电台(Virgin Radio) - 主要业务在英国,另延伸至法国及亚洲地区 • 维珍唱片(Virgin Records,维京唱片) - 隶属于百代唱片 • 维珍温泉(Virgin Spa) - 化妆品零售店 • 维珍铁路(Virgin Trains) - 主要运营于英国境内 • 维珍联合(Virgin Unite) - 慈善机构 • 维珍假日(Virgin Vacations) - 美国旅游中介 • 维珍Ware - 服饰品牌 • 维珍酒(Virgin Wines) • Virgin.net - 互联网业务,现隶属于NTL公司 • V2 唱片(V2 Records) - 独立唱片公司 • V 盛会(V Festival) - 主要在英国举办的音乐盛会 • The Trainline.com - 网上火车票订购服务 • 蓝天假日(Blue Holidays) - 旅游中介
|危機乃創新型企業家之良機 |
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|INSEAD市場策略學教授吉恩-克洛德.拉什克(Jean-Claude |
|Larréché)說,面對當前全球經濟危機,創新型企業家比守舊式企業家更能泰然處之、安然度過。 |
|[pic] |
| |
|吉恩-克洛德.拉什克 |
| |
|克洛德在最近於韓國首爾舉行的「世界知識論壇」上演講時指出,面對危機,大企業比創新型企業面臨更大的挑戰,創新型企業往往 |
|能在逆境中生存。 |
|他舉例說,1984年英國維珍集團創始人理查德.布蘭森爵士(Sir Richard Branson) 創辦的維珍大西洋航空公司(Virgin Atlantic |
|Airways Ltd.,簡稱“維珍航空”)安然渡過了發生在20世紀90年代初的航空業危機並發展壯大,而多家大型航空公司卻在那次危機中破 |
|産。 |
|布蘭森通過衛星電話接受採訪時指出,當前的全球經濟低迷將帶來很多機遇,但企業家必需做到敏捷、迅速和果斷,才能抓住機會。 |
|“危中有機,面對當前的嚴峻形勢,保存現金無疑是絕對必要的。但我認為擁有充裕現金的企業應適當地把現金拿出來投資,協助國家|
|及公司員工渡過經濟危機,”布蘭森說。 |
|隨著油價和航空公司的股價暴跌,他認爲這可能是維珍航空考慮在韓國、俄羅斯或巴西開闢航綫的好時機。他說:“如果有足够的現金 |
|我們應該考慮擴大業務。” |
|布蘭森表示只要公司提供最好的産品和服務,就可以平安渡過行業危機。他指出:“當眾多公司紛紛倒閉時,表現最佳的公司將會因此|
|而受益。” |
|[pic] |
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|理查德.布兰森 |
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|布蘭森稱,政府必需允許經營失敗的公司破産,這樣的話,新的、更具效率的公司才能脫穎而出。比如,美國政府應該允許那些經營 |
|不善的航空公司倒閉,以便讓新成立、更具效率的航空公司能够佔有一席之地。 |
|克洛德對此表示贊成。“誠然,我們必須接受危機帶來的後果。” |
|布蘭森還認爲,政府應該盡自己的職責鼓勵競爭,以激勵企業家創新的精神。他舉例說,若果英國航空公司(British |
|Airways)與美國航空公司 (American Airlines) 合併,那對於消費者來說是個壞消息,政府應阻止這樣的合併案。 |
|基於改進航空服務的願望,布蘭森爵士創辦了維珍航空,提供超值的服務,並令飛行旅程充滿歡樂。他說:“維珍航空在英國和遠東廣|
|受旅客的歡迎,這鼓舞我們在其他領域也力求創新。” |
|自布蘭森爵士與拍檔在40年前成立維珍娛樂唱片公司以來,維珍集團迄今已創立250家公司。除了航空業和娛樂業,維珍集團還涉足|
|酒店、休閑、金融、可再生能源、電訊,甚至太空旅行等業務。旗下的維珍銀河公司(Virgin |
|Galactic)準備在明年使用環保型太空發射技術開展太空旅行業務。 |
|除了倡導企業家精神和促進競爭外,政府要加強監管現時監管不足的行業,尤其是銀行業。 |
|他呼籲:“絕對不能放任銀行按揭業務再度拖垮全球經濟。顯然,這個行業必須要受到更嚴格的監管。” |
|布蘭森表示,企業家除了掙錢之外還,必須認識到他們有責任回饋社會。他說:“企業應當肩負起社會責任,著眼於財富取之於民,用|
|之於民。” |
|例如,商人不應徒然無益地把錢存在銀行。他說:“他們應該用這筆財富來改造社會,創辦新公司。商人們應該把生意擴大到新的地區|
|,特別是那些受某些企業壟斷的地區,從而給更多的人帶來就業機會,為該等地區的發展創造機遇。” |
|“我總認爲,要創業,就要做出一番成績,對社會作出積極的貢獻,”布蘭森最後說。 |

“维珍银河”太空旅游大门向中国富豪打开

富豪排行榜:揭密中外富豪创富历程与奢华生活

11月1日下午,宁波波特曼酒店。胡润百富在此举办的高溢价品牌与财富生活论坛上宣布,太空旅游向中国游客开放,胡润百富成为维珍集团“维珍银河”太空游大中华区独家代理。宁波以及浙江乃至长三角是中国富豪集中之地,为此,胡润百富在此宣布这个消息。

日前,维珍集团与胡润百富在上海签订合作协议。胡润百富成为维珍集团——“维珍银河”太空游包括中国大陆、香港、台湾和澳门在内的大中华区独家代理。“维珍银河”宇航员销售总监温斯尔说:“胡润百富是我们在大中华区的首选,因为胡润百富不仅是最早最深入了解中国企业家群体的机构,胡润百富与企业家之间有着紧密的联系,并且深受企业家们信任。”温斯尔还表示,与胡润百富的合作将有助于“维珍银河”太空游业务在大中华区的开展。

胡润百富总裁胡润也表示:“胡润百富很高兴成为”维珍银河“大中华区的独家代理,胡润百富与维珍集团有着一致的价值观,我们都追求创新、专业,并且也很好玩。”

关于“维珍银河”太空之旅计划

“维珍银河”太空之旅整个航程长约三个半小时,其中有半个小时是在太空。届时,维珍的载人飞船上升到离地面约120公里处,可以感受约5分钟的失重状态,可以看到地球表面,浩瀚的宇宙也仿佛伸手可及,此后,它将滑翔回地面。据维珍集团“维珍银河”太空之旅计划负责人威尔·怀特霍恩日前透露,一艘飞船预计可以承载6名乘客和2名飞行员。为了让每一位乘客感受到太空失重的乐趣,设计人员专门设计了间隔一人员的飞船座位,这样一来,当人因失重而飘起来时,就不会妨碍或者伤及他人。

神舟五号和神舟六号飞行的成功,杨利伟、费俊龙和聂海胜不仅成为了亿万中国人心中的航天英雄,同时也提高了人们对太空和科学的探索兴趣。英国维珍集团老板理查德·布兰森说:“维珍银河”计划就是帮助每一个想要成为宇航员到太空遨游的人都可以实现梦想。

“维珍银河”太空之旅计划将于2008年底实施,费用为20万美元。该项目已经得到了联邦航空局的许可。现在“维珍银河”正在接受第一年的预订,计划第一年最多飞行100次左右,运送520名游客。其中,第一批乘客被称为“创始人”,全球名额仅为100人,已基本预售一空。其中,中国大陆只有2个名额(男女乘客各一名)。乘客在起飞之前,只需要接受2天的宇航员训练,并且希望95%的飞机乘客的身体条件都可以满足“维珍银河”太空之旅对乘客体质的要求。而2000万美元的太空游需要半年时间的培训,自2001年至今只有4人成行。

在国内倡导“终极旅游体验”的胡润百富总裁胡润说:“胡润百富很高兴能与维珍集团一起,为更多人提供只有宇航员才能享受到的乐趣。”同时,胡润兴奋地说:“我已经接到了很多咨询电话。”胡润百富也正在为“维珍银河”项目寻找项目总监。11月下旬,维珍集团将在上海公布中国的第一批太空游客名单,并将亲手把门票交给申请人。

关于“维珍银河”

以商业化的亚轨道太空旅游为目标的“维珍银河”成立于2004年9月27日。但维珍集团筹划太空旅游始于20世纪90年代中期。几经周折,直到保罗·艾伦投资、伯特·鲁坦设计的“太空船一号”载人太空飞行成功,他们才看到真正的希望。布兰森以2150万美元从艾伦的莫哈维航空航天冒险公司取得了今后15年内使用有关技术的专利许可。2005年7月27日,布兰森与伯特·鲁坦组建了“太空船公司”,研制亚轨道太空船。

布兰森此次打造“维珍银河”,比起2000万美元的巨额门票,其20万美元的价格却让众多太空游仰慕者看到了实实在在的可行性。就连布兰森自己也说,“我希望随着‘维珍银河’计划的实施和维珍太空舰队的建立,世界各国的孩子会惊奇,为什么我们曾经以为遨游太空只是书本上的一个梦想呢!”

Head of Marketing and Communications at Virgin Galactic, Stephen Attenborough is at the forefront of space tourism. Stephen explains to audiences the impact new technologies have on business and focuses on how to drive business innovation and growth through the right combination of innovative people and technology. Stephen also entertains his audiences with the enthralling Virgin Galactic Story.

After almost 20 years in senior business and client management roles for a top London finance company, Stephen decided that success and excitement did not necessarily go hand in hand. A chance meeting with a top Virgin executive resulted in a grand plan being hatched to create the world's first Head of Astronaut Relations for the world's first space tourism operator - Virgin Galactic.

Based in London, Stephen leads Virgin Galactic's commercial operations with a team that covers sales, marketing, customer care, PR and communications. He also is responsible for workstreams that are developing and managing the astronaut experience as well as the liability, insurance and regulatory framework.
Immensely entertaining and highly enjoyable, Stephen's presentations are a perfect mix of new ideas and sound business know-how.
Head of Marketing and Communications at Virgin Galactic, Stephen Attenborough is at the forefront of space tourism. Stephen explains to audiences the impact new technologies have on business and focuses on how to drive business innovation and growth through the right combination of innovative people and technology. Stephen also entertains his audiences with the enthralling Virgin Galactic Story.

After almost 20 years in senior business and client management roles for a top London finance company, Stephen decided that success and excitement did not necessarily go hand in hand. A chance meeting with a top Virgin executive resulted in a grand plan being hatched to create the world's first Head of Astronaut Relations for the world's first space tourism operator - Virgin Galactic.

Based in London, Stephen leads Virgin Galactic's commercial operations with a team that covers sales, marketing, customer care, PR and communications. He also is responsible for workstreams that are developing and managing the astronaut experience as well as the liability, insurance and regulatory framework.
Immensely entertaining and highly enjoyable, Stephen's presentations are a perfect mix of new ideas and sound business know-how.
Head of Marketing and Communications at Virgin Galactic, Stephen Attenborough is at the forefront of space tourism. Stephen explains to audiences the impact new technologies have on business and focuses on how to drive business innovation and growth through the right combination of innovative people and technology. Stephen also entertains his audiences with the enthralling Virgin Galactic Story.

After almost 20 years in senior business and client management roles for a top London finance company, Stephen decided that success and excitement did not necessarily go hand in hand. A chance meeting with a top Virgin executive resulted in a grand plan being hatched to create the world's first Head of Astronaut Relations for the world's first space tourism operator - Virgin Galactic.

Based in London, Stephen leads Virgin Galactic's commercial operations with a team that covers sales, marketing, customer care, PR and communications. He also is responsible for workstreams that are developing and managing the astronaut experience as well as the liability, insurance and regulatory framework.
Immensely entertaining and highly enjoyable, Stephen's presentations are a perfect mix of new ideas and sound business know-how.

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