Published on : Friday, October 27, 2017
The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia plans to invest $1 billion in Richard Branson’s private space venture Virgin Galactic along with its spinoff companies, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit.
The money will be used in the expansion of Virgin’s space tourism program and help in the development of the company’s new launch vehicle to send small satellites into orbit.
The investment was made after an agreement between the crown prince Mohmamad bin Salman Al-Saud, Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and of the PIF and Richard Branson the founder of Virgin Group.
Saudi Arabia’s ministry of economy and planning provided the strategic guidance for the partnership which created a strong platform to enhance the role of innovative technology for a modern, diversifies economy that is a central part of Vision 2030.
Crown prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud said that through this partnership the kingdom will make great strides towards establishing a diversified, knowledge-based economy.
The future of the country is in innovation and by entering into partnership they will actively contribute to the sectors and technologies resulting in progress on a global scale.
PIF will hold a significant stake in Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit along with Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments. It will be subjected to regulatory approval from the PIF.
The companies’ human spaceflight plans will get support and the manufacturing and operational capabilities of Virgin Orbit’s will be accelerated.
It will also help in the development of next generation low cost small satellite launch systems and commercial supersonic point-to-point travel capabilities. There will also be the possibility of development of space centric entertainment industry.
Branson was delighted with the partnership that they were just months away from Virgin Galactic going into space with people on board and Virgin Orbit going into the orbit and placing satellites around the earth.