Virgin Galactic's new space pilot, Nicola Pecile.  Credit: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic’s new space pilot, Nicola Pecile.
Credit: Virgin Galactic

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has announced the selection of space pilot Nicola Pecile joining the spaceliner’s commercial flight team led by Chief Pilot Dave Mackay.

Pecile has logged more than 5,400 flight hours in 132 types of aircraft including gliders, general aviation aircraft, multi-engine non centerline thrust aircraft, military jet trainers, tactical high performance fighters, and helicopters.

Pecile joins Virgin Galactic after four years at the National Test Pilot School (NTPS) in Mojave, where he served as Director of Operations and Experimental Test Pilot Instructor on fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.

NTPS is the only civilian test pilot school out of the seven world-wide schools recognized by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Prior to joining the Mojave community, Pecile served for 20 years in the Italian Air Force, initially as a fighter pilot flying the Tornado FMk.3 ADV and later as an experimental test pilot.

“Virgin Galactic continues to grow and attract top talent like Nicola, and we couldn’t be more proud of our distinguished pilot corps,” said Mike Moses, Virgin Galactic’s Senior Vice President of Operations.

Spaceship manufacturing

Virgin Galactic suffered a tragedy last year by loss of one of two test pilots as a SpaceShipTwo disintegrated mid-air during a test flight. Work on the second SpaceShipTwo is now underway.

After test mishap last year, the second SpaceShipTwo is under construction. Credit: Virgin Galactic

After test mishap last year, the second SpaceShipTwo is under construction.
Credit: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic was founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS.

To date, 700 men and women from over 50 countries have reserved places to fly on Virgin Galactic’s reusable suborbital spaceship launch system, consisting of a carrier aircraft, the WhiteKnightTwo, and the spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo.

SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo are manufactured and tested in Mojave, California, by its manufacturing wing, The Spaceship Company.

Once the space launch system undergoes extensive testing, commercial spaceflight operations will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico, a purpose-built commercial spaceport.

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