Jonathan Firth has been directly involved in the development of the commercial space industry in the US since 2004, when ‘SpaceShipOne’ reached suborbital space and won the ‘Ansari X-Prize’. He was a member of the executive team that started up three space companies – Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company, and Virgin Orbit – establishing a viable and funded business plan for each.
In his role as Executive Vice President, he oversaw all Virgin Galactic activities to achieve readiness for commercial operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico, including the build, systems integration and flight test of the ‘Enterprise’ suborbital spacecraft designed and built by Scaled Composites and the ‘Unity’ suborbital spacecraft built by The Spaceship Company (TSC), which has now achieved space altitude in its flight test program. Also oversight on the construction of the ‘Gateway to Space’ terminal and hangar facility, an operations base for Virgin Galactic at Spaceport America in New Mexico, and the progressing of all other work streams supporting the ‘Founder’ customer experience.
Those activities leveraged Jonathan’s accomplished programme management and business development experience gained in the commercial aviation, long distance rail, mass transit, and oil & gas industries. His career has evolved to where he now focuses mainly on start-up ventures. Jonathan is a mechanical engineering graduate of Imperial College London and also holds an MBA from Henley Business School, UK. He is a regular speaker at international events. He is also the Founder and Director of the Las Cruces Space Festival, an annual celebration of space related activity and interest, which is held each April.