A former Virgin Galactic test pilot who says he was fired after 6 years is joining Blue Origin

A former Virgin Galactic test pilot who says he was fired after 6 years is joining Blue Origin
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson next to Mark Stucky, who says he has now joined Blue Origin. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
  • Virgin Galactic's former lead test pilot told CNN he's joining Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.
  • Mark Stucky said he was fired after six years at Virgin Galactic, and the company didn't say why.

A former Virgin Galactic test pilot who says he was fired after six years told CNN on Tuesday that he was joining Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin.

Mark "Forger" Stucky told CNN he would join Blue Origin's "Advanced Development Programs" team. Blue Origin confirmed Stucky's hiring in an email to Insider.

Stucky was Virgin Galactic's director of flight test and lead test pilot from February 2015 to July 2021, according to his LinkedIn profile.


During his time at the company, Stucky was one of two pilots to fly Galactic's SpaceShipTwo just over 50 miles above the Earth. This was the first time Richard Branson's company had launched a rocket into space.

Stucky told CNN that Virgin Galactic didn't explain why he was terminated. "It's only logical to assume it was due to the book 'Test Gods' as the work environment completely changed after its publication," he told CNN.

New Yorker writer Nicholas Schmidle's book "Test Gods" was about Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, per CNN. In the book, Stucky spoke about risks involved with the spacecraft, including an incident in 2011 when he says SpaceShipTwo started spinning uncontrollably and that his co-pilot was "sure they were going to die," per CNN.


Stucky said in the book that he used a special braking system to stop the spacecraft from spinning, per CNN.

Insider has reached out to Virgin Galactic for comment on Stucky's departure. The company declined to comment on the matter to CNN.

Stucky announced in a LinkedIn post in July that he was leaving Virgin Galactic, saying in the comments: "Departing a company not on my own timeline was a first for me."


One LinkedIn user asked Stucky if his departure was because of "Test Gods." Stucky replied, "I guess you'd have to ask them!"

He left shortly after Virgin Galactic flew its first full crew, including founder Branson, to the edge of space.

Stucky told CNN that he might not be able to become a pilot at Blue Origin because its rockets don't require pilots.

"There is no flight promise," he said. "But never say never is a carrot that works for some of us."