Boeing backs Virgin Galactic with strategic $20M funding

Virgin Galactic has $20 million extra to pursue its aim of area tourism with a brand new funding from Boeing introduced this morning. The 2 corporations are each deeply concerned in human spaceflight, however in numerous methods — and Boeing appears to really feel that it’s higher to hitch Virgin than attempt to beat them at this explicit sport.

VG is properly on its option to its aim of being the primary firm to supply “routine, constant and inexpensive” area tourism, although clearly the final merchandise is relative. Its spacecraft have already been to area with folks inside, primarily taking the identical journey as what’s deliberate for paying passengers — who, by the way in which, will embark from the just lately unveiled Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The cash got here by way of by way of Boeing’s HorizonX Ventures, which has beforehand invested in some moderately smaller scale aerospace startups, like Accion Techniques and Matternet. The crew there appears to favor to present little money injections right here and there moderately than again a serious participant with a large sequence A or the like.

Little context is obtainable for the funding; Quotes supplied in a press launch are extra empty than regular, talking solely of the brilliant, obscure way forward for human spaceflight. Why $20 million? Why now?

The funding can be contingent on new shares being issued within the new publicly traded firm fashioned by way of a just lately introduced merger with Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia. That’s anticipated to go ahead in This autumn of this yr.

Maybe forward of that occasion, and with Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson having walked away from a billion {dollars} provided by Saudia Arabia (in response to the Khashoggi homicide), the corporate determined it may use a bit extra comparatively unstructured money.

No particular partnerships or applied sciences are talked about, merely that it’s an “essential collaboration,” in Branson’s phrases. CEO George Whitesides stated he’s “excited to companion with Boeing to construct one thing that may actually change how folks transfer across the planet.” “One thing” that strikes folks across the planet? What else would both firm construct?

Boeing had in all probability been knocking on the door for some time, and so they wanted to get this funding on the books forward of the merger, with particular collaborations and initiatives nonetheless on the drafting board and subsequently with budgets solely vaguely fashioned. “$20 million might be high-quality,” I can think about somebody saying in a boardroom someplace.

There’s no timeline on Virgin Galactic’s first business flight, however it’s conceivable it could possibly be earlier than the top of the yr — a 2019 launch could be a pleasant feather to have of their cap, however both method there’s no scarcity of consumers; Reportedly some $80 million of commitments have already been made in direction of journeys to area.

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