Virgin Galactic’s suborbital plans involve toting well-dressed space travelers into near space starting in 2020.
Credit: Virgin Galactic/Quasar Media 2018

A new alliance between Virgin Galactic and Boeing has been announced, an investment of $20 million by Boeing to work together to broaden commercial space access and transform global travel technologies.

The new deal is an effort to drive the commercialization 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 in a press statement.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic takes flight. Will public space travel?
Credit: Virgin Galactic

Natural next steps

“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.

What specific projects the technological twosome are tackling “will be shared in the future,” according to a Boeing statement.

Reusable human spaceflight systems

To date, Virgin Galactic has invested $1 billion of capital to build reusable human spaceflight systems. The group is in the final stages of development, having already completed two crewed flights of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle into space, and anticipates initial commercial launch in 2020.

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, noted: “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.”

Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo launch system flies above New Mexico’s Spaceport America.
Credit: Virgin Galactic/Mark Greenberg

Transaction closing

In July, Virgin Galactic announced its intent to become a publicly-listed entity via a business combination with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp.

The Boeing investment will be in return for new shares in Virgin Galactic and is therefore contingent on the closing of that transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019, and any such investment will be in the post-business combination company.

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