Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 30th 2017 Contents MARCH 30 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG13
Still dreaming of the stars
Like many people, I sometimes
think to myself: what if this
is all a dream? I feel like one
day I might wake up and be 20
years old again, with my whole
life ahead of me. That thought
doesn't scare me, though, it excites me. I'd
quite like to go back and plot my life all over
again, and have even more big dreams.
Dreaming is one of humanity's greatest
gifts. It champions aspiration, spurs innova-
tion, leads to change and propels us forward.
In a world without dreams, there would be no
adventure, no moon landing, no female CEOs,
no civil rights. What a half-lived and tragic
existence we would have.
We should all dream big, and encourage
others to do so, too.
Throughout my life, space has always held
a special place in my dreams. After witness-
ing humans land on the moon, my generation
thought that we would all be making routine
trips there and exploring it together. But as
the years passed, we learned that government
officials were not in the business of taking you
and me to space; they had other priorities.
Eventually, when it came to space explo-
ration, it became obvious that private enter-
prise would have to take what the government
started and pave the way for other discoveries.
This is essentially the reason our team started
our commercial space line, Virgin Galactic. We
wanted to help ordinary people reach the stars
by doing what we do best: innovating.
When Virgin Galactic was merely a name
and a vision backed by a small founding team,
I didn't know where this journey would
take us nor how long it would take for us to
I didn't know that in 2004 I would be cry-
ing tears of joy with aerospace engineer Burt
Rutan and Paul Allen, Microsoft's co-founder,
as SpaceShipOne won the Ansari XPRIZE af-
ter completing three flights in two weeks. It
was the first privately developed and manned
spaceship to reach space.
I also didn't know that Virgin would even-
tually be able to start three companies that
are all contributing to our common dream:
establishing open access to space that can
change the world for good.
Virgin Galactic is the name of the company
that will eventually send humans (including
yours truly) to space aboard SpaceShipTwo (or
VSS Unity). This ship was built by The Space-
ship Company, our Mohave, California-based
facility that manufactures vehicles for the fu-
ture. Virgin Galactic will be headquartered in
Spaceport America in New Mexico, from where
SpaceShipTwo's flights will eventually take off.
Our newest company, Virgin Orbit, en-
compasses LauncherOne, our small-satellite
launcher. LauncherOne was created with the
same philosophy as SpaceShipTwo: opening
space to many more missions by dramatically
decreasing the price of each flight. We're do-
ing exactly that with LauncherOne (but with
satellites instead of people).
During recent visits to Virgin Orbit's design
and manufacturing facility in Long Beach, Cal-
ifornia, the superstar team of women and men
there showed me the fantastic hardware they've
built, tested and improved upon. By offering
lower costs and frequent service to space, the
team is revolutionising the small-satellite mar-
ket in the promising space economy.
Besides each company's technical strengths
and incredible teams, what excites me most is
that Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company
and Virgin Orbit are each equally committed
to opening access to space as a way to learn
more and improve life here on Earth which,
after all, is my favourite planet. We have a way
to go with each programme, but I'm thrilled
that we have so many great people who are
committed to innovation and exploration. And
I'm happy that they are pursuing their dreams.
Decades ago, after we watched the moon
landing, the idea of space exploration was
new and promising.
Later, the obstacles made even considering it
seem out of reach. But, as our experience with
Virgin Galactic demonstrates, taking dreams
seriously---even the ones that seem wildly out
of reach---is essential.
When you have an idea and you're thinking
of starting a business (whether it's in space ex-
ploration or not) remember not to be self-con-
scious about having high expectations. Don't
judge yourself too harshly, and don't let the
naysayers convince you that your idea is way
too optimistic, or that you're being too ide-
alistic or not serious enough.
Look at the world with wide-eyed enthusi-
asm, and believe that you are more powerful
than the problems that confront you. We are
only limited by our imagination.
Also remember that the benefits of having
big dreams far outweigh the perceived risks,
because their value isn't just measured by the
outcome, but by the inspiration that comes
from the journey of achieving them.
Dream big, and you could be presented with
the opportunity to lead the world on an in-
credible adventure --- even one to other worlds.
(Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin
Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic,
Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active.
He maintains a blog at www.virgin.com/richard-
branson/blog. You can follow him on Twitter
at twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more
about the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)
(Questions from readers will be answered in
future columns. Please send them to Richard.
Branson@nytimes.com. Please include your
name, country, e-mail address and the name of
the website or publication where you read the
Richard Branson watches a test flight with teams from Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and The
Spaceship Company recently in Mohave, California.
PHOTO: VIRGIN GALACTIC
• Don’t shy away from having high
expectations for yourself and your
• Don’t let the naysayers convince you
that your goals are too idealistic.
• Remember that the value of chasing
your dreams is measured not just by
your accomplishments, but also by the
inspiration that comes from your jour-
ney toward accomplishing those goals.
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