Mastering rail is “harder than space”, according to one space veteran, formerly Richard Branson’s right-hand man in the making of Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit.
As Britain prepares to launch satellites from its own soil for the first time this summer, unions are set to bring the country’s rail network to a standstill in later this month.
Speaking on his 25-year-long career under Branson’s wing, at Seraphim Space Investment Trust’s investor conference on Wednesday evening, Patrick McCall said: “The good thing about space is that you don’t have network rail… It’s as hard as it gets and harder than space.”
McCall, who joined Virgin Rail in 1997 and later became co-chair of Virgin Trains and chair of Virgin Galactic, previously led Virgin’s space ventures to their SPAC assisted IPOs before becoming a venture partner at Seraphim.
While hailing the new accessibility of the space sector, which has been unlocked by billionaire and government interest, he lent some positivity for those hedging their bets on Virgin’s high-speed rail venture, known as Hyperloop, saying: “It will get there one day.”
The government has been particularly keen on space post-Brexit. But space tourism is the shining star behind prime minister Boris Johnson’s drive, McCall suggested.
McCall, who was part of Johnson’s G7 visit to the Cornish spaceport which will host the first launch, said: “We showed the prime minister the rocket and his first reaction was ‘where do the people go?’”
The space chief hinted that the UK’s space revenues will scale alongside space tourism., with the country not expected to “earn very much money from this launch”, which will be in September, City A.M. understands.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a rallying call to get people to realise that space can be unbelievably exciting and the UK has a big role to play in that,” he added. “I want to make a positive difference to the world and using Rich’s mantra: You do a lot of good by making money.”