Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes – I’m finding it hard to believe I’m now 69-years-young. If you’re only as young as you feel then I’m certainly still 25! Though, as one of our local team on Necker told me yesterday: “Congratulations man. There’s a lot that don’t reach your age!”
I’m thrilled that my birthday falls on the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. Our wonderful Virgin Galactic team and many of our Future Astronauts will be celebrating with some special events at the Kennedy Space Centre, I hope you all have a magical time.
Birthdays always get me thinking back and reminiscing over the years gone by, and as I’ve also been celebrating the Apollo moon landing this week, I thought I would share my memories from 50 years ago.
It was 1969 and I was living in London. Student magazine and The Student Advisory Centre were set up and doing well, but Virgin was still a year away. It was actually my 19th birthday a couple of days before the moon landings. I don’t remember anything about my birthday party, but I do recall my mum phoning to wish me a happy birthday, and telling me not to get too drunk (wishful thinking for a 19-year-old!), because she wanted me back home to watch the moon landings with the rest of my family.
Somehow I made it and I have an incredibly clear memory of mum, dad, my sisters Lindy and Vanessa and me, all in our pyjamas and dressing gowns, just fascinated by what we were watching. Mainly because of the sheer scale of the technical achievement but also because it was unfolding in our family living room – it seems incredible now, but those were the days when we only had three TV channels in the UK and our 12 inch TV was of the black and white variety.
Looking back, the moon landings definitely stirred something very deep in all of us and for me it was a turning point. First and foremost I wanted to become an astronaut – and that is ultimately why I wanted to start Virgin Galactic. But it also acted a springboard for a way of living, a way of thinking and a way of doing business. Maintaining a childlike sense of wonder; a belief that anything was possible; a determination to explore, and to live life on the edge and to the full. All those things have served me incredibly well over the past 50 years and I have Neil and Buzz and that early morning in 1969 to thank for that.
Apollo 11 was where man’s mission for the moon began and I couldn’t be more excited for mankind’s next giant leap. It was so exciting to share last week that Virgin Galactic has taken a huge step towards becoming first publicly traded, human spaceflight company. By taking Virgin Galactic public, we can open space to more investors and in doing so, open space to thousands of new astronauts.