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Virgin Galactic billionaire Richard Branson sued over lawsuit alleging he ‘sent faulty rockets into space’

VIRGIN Galactic billionaire Richard Branson has been sued after he allegedly sent “faulty rocket ships” into space.

Branson, 71, is accused of concealing flaws in two prototype spaceships and selling £346million in company shares while prices were “artificially inflated”, a civil lawsuit by Virgin Galactic shareholders alleges.

Richard Branson has been accused of concealing problems with two Virgin Galactic rocket ships

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Richard Branson has been accused of concealing problems with two Virgin Galactic rocket shipsCredit: EPA
The Unity starship and mothership Eve that shareholders claim is 'seriously flawed'

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The Unity starship and mothership Eve that shareholders claim is ‘seriously flawed’Credit: AP

Court documents are said to claim that prototype designs for the Unity starship and Eve mothership that were sent into space were nevertheless “seriously flawed” and unflyable.

Virgin Galactic has denied the allegations.

A company spokesman said: “We believe the allegations are unfounded and we stand by the safety of our vehicles.

“We will vigorously defend ourselves in the appropriate forum.”

Court documents claim the prototypes were “not intended to be lifted into the air.”

“Rather, they were intended to provide the company with a starting point for developing its own commercial vehicle that was safe and airworthy — two things that Eve and Unity certainly weren’t,” the shareholders claim.

The lawsuit alleges the spacecraft are “not designed for commercial use” and have “cracks after each flight” and “lack of properly planned maintenance.”

It also claims that the Branson rocket, which was used in last year’s lauded space launch, was damaged in flight and that “cracks were found in key locations”.

The company is also accused of covering up the severe damage to the USS Unity during a test flight in February 2019.

Between April 12 and August 12 last year, the billionaire sold 16 million shares worth £346 million while share prices were “artificially inflated”, the lawsuit alleges.

Former Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc chairman Chamath Palihapitiya is also said to be implicated in the lawsuit Bloomberg.

Branson has sold more than £760million in Virgin Galactic shares since 2020.

Investors have filed the civil suit in US District Court in the Eastern District of New York.

They are seeking damages from Branson and the company’s directors and management for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, gross mismanagement, abuse of control, squandering of company assets and violations of the securities laws.

Court documents say the company has lost “millions of dollars” for fixing structural and design issues with the spacecraft to make it airworthy.

Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 with the goal of sending paying customers into space by 2009.

Around 600 potential passengers have made deposits for Branson’s rockets, which are priced at $340,000 per seat for a flight that lasts up to three hours and hovers in zero gravity for several minutes.

The Branson spacecraft used in last year's launch is said to have

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The Branson spacecraft used in last year’s launch is said to have “cracks”.Photo credit: Reuters

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17860049/richard-branson-sued-faulty-virgin-galactic-space-rockets/ Virgin Galactic billionaire Richard Branson sued over lawsuit alleging he ‘sent faulty rockets into space’

Bobby Allyn

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