Boeing is to invest $20 million in Virgin Galactic. The aircraft manufacturer has stated that the two companies will “work together to broaden commercial space access and transform global travel technologies”.
Virgin Galactic is a pioneer of commercial human space flight and is the first and only company to have put humans into space in a vehicle built for commercial service, having built and flown a Mach 3 passenger vehicle. Through its manufacturing and development capabilities, Virgin Galactic can design, build, test, and operate a fleet of advanced aerospace vehicles. To date, it has invested $1bn of capital to build reusable human spaceflight systems designed to enable significantly more people to experience and utilise space.
Boeing’s relevant experience includes transporting people to orbit and building and operating large structures in that challenging environment. A part of every US manned space program, Boeing serves as NASA’s prime contractor for the International Space Station (ISS) and is preparing the new, reusable, Starliner space capsule for launch to the ISS.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, said: “This is the beginning of an important collaboration for the future of air and space travel, which are the natural next steps for our human spaceflight programme. Virgin Galactic and Boeing share a vision of opening access to the world and space, to more people, in safe and environmentally responsible ways.”
George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO, commented: “we are excited to partner with Boeing to develop something that can truly change how people move around the planet and connect with one another. As a Virgin company, our focus will be on a safe and unparalleled customer experience, with environmental responsibility to the fore.”
In July, Virgin Galactic confirmed plans to become a publicly-listed entity via a business combination with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. In exchange for its investment, Boeing is to receive new shares in Virgin Galactic and is therefore subject to the transaction’s completion – expected fourth quarter of 2019.