Boeing invests US$20 million in Virgin Galactic

Partnership to drive commercialisation of space travel

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing will plough US$20 million into Virgin Galactic as the companies work together to expand commercial space access.

To date, Virgin Galactic has invested $1 billion of capital to build reusable human spaceflight systems designed to enable significantly more people to experience and utilise space. In July, the company announced its intent to become a publicly listed entity via a business combination with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp.

Boeing’s investment will be in return for new shares in Virgin Galactic and is contingent on the closing of that transaction, expected to close in Q4 of 2019, and part of the post-business combination company.

VSS Unity and the Virgin Galactic Team | &copy Virgin Galactic
VSS Unity and the Virgin Galactic Team | &copy Virgin Galactic

“Boeing’s strategic investment facilitates our effort to drive the commercialisation of space and broaden consumer access to safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible new forms of transportation,” said Brian Schettler, Senior Managing Director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures.

“Our work with Virgin Galactic, and others, will help unlock the future of space travel and high-speed mobility.”

This investment brings together two companies with extensive experience in the space industry. Through its manufacturing and development capabilities, Virgin Galactic can design, build, test, and operate a fleet of advanced aerospace vehicles. Boeing has unsurpassed experience 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.

VSS Unity gliding back to earth | &copy Virgin Galactic
VSS Unity gliding back to earth | &copy Virgin Galactic

“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 program,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. “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, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said, “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.”

VMS Eve at Spaceport America | &copy Virgin Galactic
VMS Eve at Spaceport America | &copy Virgin Galactic

This new partnership follows the signing of a contract with the Italian Air Force at the start of October for a research flight on SpaceShipTwo – the first time a government department has funded a human-tended research flight on a commercial space vehicle. That mission will take place in early 2020.

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