Stucky said he would join Blue Origin’s “Advanced Development Programs” team, where he said in a statement to CNN that he “will do my best to help. [CEO Jeff Bezos’] amazing sight of humans not only having a continuous presence in space, but truly becoming a space species. “
Blue Origin confirmed Stucky’s hiring in an email.
Stucky flew the first flight aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo that reached the edge of space in 2018. This flight has been widely regarded as the first crewed space mission to be launched from US soil since the United States. retired from the NASA space shuttle program in 2011, and this earned him a pair of commercial astronaut wings.
He was also a key figure in “Test Gods,” a recent book by New York writer Nicholas Schmidle, which mapped previously undisclosed issues with a SpaceShipTwo flight in 2019. In the book, Stucky also speaks candidly about the risks associated with the spacecraft, including a vivid account of a 2011 Stucky-piloted test flight in which SpaceShipTwo, which requires two pilots to operate, began to spiral out of control. Stucky’s co-pilot “was sure they were going to die” before Stucky could regain control of the plane by deploying a special braking system, called the “feather,” according to the book.
Stucky announced he was leaving Virgin Galactic shortly after Branson’s flight to space in July in a brief LinkedIn post, saying “If life throws lemons at you, maybe it’s time to learn how to juggle.” He added that his departure was not on his own schedule.
“I will leave it to Virgin Galactic to explain the reason for my dismissal because they never explained it to me,” he said in a statement to CNN. “It makes sense to assume that this was due to the ‘Test Gods’ book, as the work environment changed completely after it was published. The same supervisor who told me I was indispensable, undervalued and undervalued paid in April never really spoke to me again after the book came out in May. “
The company declined to comment on Stucky’s departure.
Since leaving Virgin Galactic, Stucky has become more critical of the company on social media. In Tweeter
, responding to an article that revealed that Branson’s own spaceflight had not taken the correct course due to what the company described as strong upper winds, Stucky tweeted “the most misleading statement today was that of @virgingalactic “.
“The facts are that the pilots failed to trim to achieve the proper pitch rate, the winds were well within limits, they did nothing substantial to correct the track error and entered the lane. ‘Class A airspace without authorization,’ he said. wrote
Virgin Galactic did not respond to requests for further comment on this specific incident. But in a September statement, the company said that “although the ultimate flight path deviated from our original plan, it was a controlled and intentional flight path that allowed Unity 22 to reach l “space and land safely at our spaceport in New Mexico. Passengers and crew were not endangered by this change of course.”
The statement added that the spacecraft pilots encountered high altitude winds and “responded appropriately to these changing flight conditions.”
The Federal Aviation Administration, which authorizes commercial space flights, grounded the company in early September as it investigated issues surrounding the Branson flight. The investigation revealed that he had been flying outside of his FAA designated airspace for nearly two minutes and that the company had not informed the FAA of the deviation of the flight path. The FAA closed the investigation and cleared Virgin Galactic to fly after the company agreed to change the way it communicates with the FAA during flight operations.
Virgin Galactic was planning to launch its first crewed mission since the Branson flight in October. But the company now says the theft was postponed after a “period of planned vehicle improvement and modification,” further delaying its plans to start stealing paying customers.
Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement about the delay last week that “decisions are driven by detailed and in-depth analysis, and we are flying based on the most accurate and comprehensive data available.” .
He added that Virgin Galactic vehicles “are designed with significant safety margins, providing layers of protection that far exceed the loads experienced and expected on our flights.”
While Stucky says he is “extremely grateful” to join Blue Origin, the new job means he may no longer be able to fly in space as Blue Origin does not currently operate a vehicle requiring pilots. New Shepard, the suborbital space passenger vehicle that took Bezos to space shortly after Branson’s flight in July, is fully self-contained.
“There is no promise of theft,” he said. “But never say never is a carrot that works for some of us.”