Boeing Co. agreed to invest $20 million for a minority stake in Virgin Galactic, a startup that is preparing to fly its customers into space next year.
The relationship is designed as a collaboration aimed at shaping the future of human space travel, the companies said in a statement Oct. 8. Virgin Galactic also is setting longer-term sights on shuttling airline travelers around the world at high speeds—a mode of transport that will take years to achieve.
The deal positions the companies to explore the marketplace for airline travel at hypersonic speeds above the Earths atmosphere, trimming trips across the globe to two hours or less. Elon Musks Space Exploration Technologies Corp. also has announced plans for such flights in the future.
Boeings investment is “a catalyst for broader collaboration and deeper collaboration,” said Virgin Galactic Chief Executive Officer George Whitesides.
The future of high-speed airline travel is “a big chess board” with numerous engineering, technological and financial issues to resolve, he said in an interview. “We can really start to dig into some of these questions that need to be put in place.”
Boeing will make the investment through its HorizonX Ventures arm to join the space startup founded by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson. Boeing next year is set to fly its first commercial space customers — astronauts—to the International Space Station as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations commercial crew program.
“Weve gotten the question, Why now, why this timing?” said Brian Schettler, senior managing director at HorizonX Ventures. “Really, we see this great, momentous occasion on both sides” with the companies first customer flights to space approaching.
Boeings investment is contingent on Virgin Galactic going public by year-end as part of a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp., which will hold a 49% stake in the merged company. The arrangement to takRead More – Source