Friday, October 27, 2017

Richard Branson's Virgin Group Receives $1Bln US from Saudi Arabian Wealth Fund

          By Henry Stewart

Here's the latest example to illustrate that our space future rests squarely in the hands of the private sector and the irrational, entrepreneurial and crazy rich people who make it move.

Virgin spaceship Unity glides to Earth in June 2017 June. Photo c/o Oliver Ouyang/ VG.

As outlined in the October 28th, 2017 Los Angeles Times post, "Saudi Arabia to invest $1 billion in Virgin Galactic," Saudi Arabia’s primary wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, plans to invest about $1Bln US ($1.3Bln CDN) in British billionaire Richard Branson’s three commercial space companies, including space tourism firm Virgin Galactic (VG).

According to the article, "the kingdom’s fund also has an option to invest an additional $480 million in 'space services'."

Branson (left) announcing deal. Photo c/o @richardbranson.
This isn't the first time Branson and VG have accessed Middle Eastern funding.

As outlined in the April 29th, 2013 post, "SpaceshipTwo Flies Supersonic,"  Abu Dhabi based Aabar Investments has also made substantial investments in Branson owned companies.

The latest funding will "also go toward Virgin Orbit, a Long Beach firm that plans to launch small satellites from the belly of a modified commercial airliner, and the Spaceship Co., a Mojave firm that is building propulsion systems as well as the space plane and carrier aircraft for Virgin Galactic," according to the Los Angeles Times post. 
Virgin Group said in a statement that the investment will support human spaceflight plans, as well as increase Virgin Orbit’s manufacturing and operational capabilities and help develop “commercial supersonic point-to-point travel capabilities.” 
The statement also teased the possibility of developing a “space centric entertainment industry” in Saudi Arabia.
The investment, subject to regulatory approval, will give the Saudi Arabian fund a “significant stake” in the three Virgin space companies, although London UK based Virgin Group will remain the majority shareholder.

According to Branson, a VG spaceship is "months away" from going into space with people aboard.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page