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Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic Sued for Sending “Faulty Rockets” Into Space on Purpose

Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic company are firm believers that the next step in space exploration is space tourism, which will democratize space exploration by making it accessible to untrained (but rich) civilians.
The Virgin Galactic Unity spaceplane 10 photos
Virgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on itVirgin Galactic has its first passenger flight, with Richard Branson as astronaut 001 on it
Branson himself flew to the edge of space in a highly-mediated and carefully-orchestrated stunt in the summer of 2021, on board the Unity spacecraft. Ticket prices for future Virgin Galactic prices soared to double the amount shortly afterwards, proving what Branson had been saying all along: regular folks with deep pockets were very interested in flying to space, if only to linger in zero-gravity for a few minutes.

But maybe interest in space tourism has been over-hyped. A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York on February 21 alleges that it most definitely has been, and Brandon and chairman Chamath Palihapitiya, who unexpectedly stepped down from his position that same month, had a hand in it.

Virgin Galactic put defective rockets into space as a means to drum up interest in the company, the investor lawsuit argues, as reported by Market Business Insider. Virgin Galactic shareholder Thomas Spiteri is now seeking damages from the company and its management team, on the claims that the share price was artificially inflated. Share prices in the space company have declined steadily since last summer, and are now at a record low.

According to Spiteri, the first Eve and Unity prototypes that were launched were “severely flawed and nowhere near flightworthy.” “In fact,” the lawsuit argues, “the prototypes were not meant to be taken into the air. Rather, they were meant to provide a starting design point for the company to create its own commercial-grade vehicle that was safe and flightworthy – two things Eve and Unity certainly were not.”

The launches served to drive up the price of company shares, and Spiteri is accusing the two company leaders of insider trading. Palihapitiya sold 10 million shares for $315 million before he left his position, while Branson sold 16 million shares for $458 million when the price was at its highest.

Virgin Galactic would not comment on the separate allegations made in the lawsuit, but it did refute the validity of the lawsuit, saying it stood “by the safety of our vehicles.”

 
 
 
 
 

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