Key speaker: Jonathan Firth

Martin ClarkeExecutive Vice President of Spaceport and Program Development

Jonathan Firth has been a member of Virgin Galactic’s leadership team since its inception in 2004. He joined the company as Project Director, and later  moved into the role of Director of Operations and Projects in 2008, and then to the U.S. for his current role as Executive Vice President of Spaceport & Program Development in July 2014. He oversees the company’s activity to ready itself for commercial operations in New Mexico, including the development of the Suborbital Spaceflight System, the preparations for Operational Readiness and the relationship with the NM Spaceport Authority, which is responsible for the operation of Spaceport America, the future home of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo fleet.

Jonathan began his Virgin career in the UK in 1998 as Project Director of Virgin Rail Group, where he was responsible for delivery of the Pendolino and Super Voyager tilting train projects on the UK West Coast and CrossCountry networks respectively. After that, he spent three years as Director of Projects at Virgin Atlantic Airways, where he supervised the airline’s portfolio of business-led projects.

Throughout his career in engineering and project management, Jonathan has worked in a diverse array of industries, including oil and gas, petrochemicals, mass transit, main line rail, aviation, and aerospace. He holds an honours degree in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London and an MBA from Henley Business School.

Abstract and Recorded talk

Virgin Galactic – the journey into space

Space travel is no longer solely the domain of governments and space agencies. Since the turn of the century, commercial companies have been working on launch capabilities and today private organisations regularly deliver payloads to the International Space Station.

With the idea of space exploration uniquely able to spark the imagination and motivate the next generation of leaders, it’s clear that there is an appetite for human spaceflight.

Virgin Galactic are dedicated to democratising access to space for the benefit of life on Earth, establishing their human spaceflight headquarters at Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, located on a 27 square mile area in New Mexico.

Join Executive Vice-President of Spaceport and Program Development, and Imperial alumnus, Jonathan Firth, for a voyage through the history of Virgin Galactic and a glimpse into the future of space travel.

Jonathan Firth’s presentation can be viewed here

Other speakers

Dr Gabrielle Thomas

G ThomasGabrielle is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Imperial.She completed a PhD in Laser Physics at Imperial in 2011.Post-PhD, she spent a year at Midaz Lasers on a Knowledge Transfer Secondment, before being awarded a Doctoral Prize Fellowship at Imperial. She is currently Work Package Leader for the ESA funded project – “Diode-pumped Alexandrite Lasers for Remote Sensing” – and is responsible for the management and day-to-day running of the technical tasks of the project.”

At the Space Lab Annual Conference 2015 Gabrielle presented a talk titled: Next generation space and airborne laser technology‌

Dr Kathy Bass

Kathy BassKathy joined the UK Space Agency in January 2015 as Head of Applications Strategy. Her role is to drive, lead and coordinate strategy to foster the growth in applications and services as set out in the UK Civil Space Strategy. Before joining the UKSA, Kathy spent 10 years working as a scientific specialist for Defra. Originally trained as an ecologist, her experience includes Earth observations, climate change, sustainable farming, bioenergy and evidence strategy. 

At the Space Lab Annual Conference 2015 Kathy presented a talk titled: UK Space Agency Overview and Approach to Collaboration

Dr Peter Wass

Peter WassPeter is a researcher in the High Energy Physics group at Imperial developing technology to  observe gravitational waves in space. He has recently delivered instrumentation for the ESA LISA Pathfinder mission and is a senior member of the science operations and data analysis team. In 2012 he was awarded the Zeldovich Medal by the international Committee on Space Research for his contributions to the project.  

At the Space Lab Annual Conference 2015 Tom presented a talk titled: Observing the Gravitational Universe From Space

Prof Tom Pike

Tom PikeTom is a Professor of Microengineering at Imperial. He develops microinstruments for space and terrestrial applications. Current research projects include the fabrication of silicon microseismometers to investigate Mars, the NetLander SEIS-SP project, and development of a chemical microscope. He was awarded the 2008 and 2009 NASA Group Achievement Awards, for outstanding contributions to instrumentation for the Phoenix mission to Mars.

Funding Opportunities Panel - ‘Good for Science, Good for Business’

Panel members:

  • Professor Alan Heavens, Panel Chair, Imperial College London
  • Conor O’Sullivan, Business Innovation Manager, Satellite Applications Catapult
  • Dr Vlad Skarda, Knowledge Exchange Manager, STFC
  • Dr Margaret Christie, European Research Office, Imperial College London
  • Tim Just, Head of Space, Innovate UK