Press Release

Virgin Galactic Adds Talent to its New Mexico Team

By SpaceRef Editor
November 27, 2013
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Virgin Galactic Adds Talent to its New Mexico Team

Las Cruces, N.M. – Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, announced today that Las Cruces resident Greg Powe and New Mexico native Kelly Barncastle have joined its best-in-class team.

Powe, who has lived in New Mexico for 30 years, is the newest addition to the operations team at Spaceport America, where he will serve as the Gateway facilities manager. He brings with him a wealth of managerial experience, including 22 years at the White Sands Space Harbor and White Sands Test Facility where he worked as facilities manager. During that time, Powe was awarded the Space Flight Awareness Silver Snoopy Award, which was presented to him for his technical competence, dedication and pride that guaranteed mission success. In his position at Virgin Galactic, he will manage the company’s operational facilities at Spaceport America and in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Specifically, Powe will be responsible for the day-to-day, hands-on management of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, coordinating activities, financials, contractors and manpower required for current and future needs at the spaceport. 

Barncastle, a graduate of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, will fill the position of terrestrial travel manager and will be based in Virgin Galactic’s Las Cruces office. This role will include office management and team travel support, as well as working through the logistics of Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut travel to, from and within New Mexico. His background in the travel industry includes a variety of jobs in the aviation sector, most notably his time spent at Virgin Galactic’s sister company, Virgin America, when the airline first launched in 2007.  Barncastle will be relocating back to Las Cruces in the next few weeks to begin his employment with Virgin Galactic.

“We are pleased to have Greg and Kelly on board as we continue to add to our ever-growing team based out of Spaceport America and the office in Las Cruces,” said George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic. “These men are the first of many anticipated local New Mexico hires at Virgin Galactic, and we look forward to progressing toward commercial operations with the support of our talented and hard-working crew members.”   

 About Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. To date, the company has accepted nearly $80 million in deposits from approximately 640 individuals, which is approximately 10% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space. The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles, which will be manufactured by The Spaceship Company in Mojave, Calif., share much of the same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers, or the equivalent scientific research payload, on suborbital space flights. The vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test flight program is well under way, leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

About aabar Investments PJS

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, aabar Investments PJS (aabar) invests in various sectors including infrastructure, aviation, real estate, automotive, commodities, energy and financial services. International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) acquired a stake in Aabar in 2008 and has progressively increased its stake to over 95% since then. Following IPIC’s initial investment, Aabar has made numerous investments including stakes in Falcon Private Bank Ltd., UniCredit S.p.A., RHB Bank Malaysia, Galactic Ventures LLC (Virgin Galactic), XOJET Inc., Glencore Xstrata plc., Arabtec Construction PJSC and a portfolio of real estate projects.  IPIC, established in 1984 and wholly owned by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, invests globally in energy and energy related sectors and undertakes strategic projects on behalf of the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  IPIC’s portfolio currently consists of over 15 investments throughout the hydrocarbon value chain spanning five continents.  Specific investments include: Compania Espanola de Petroleos (CEPSA), NOVA Chemicals Corporation (NOVA), Borealis AG (Borealis) aabar.


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SpaceRef staff editor.