Boeing is set to invest in one of the Virgin Group’s space-related projects. The American manufacturing giant will invest in Virgin Galactic to the tune of $20 million.
At Simple Flying, we typically focus on Virgin’s more atmospheric exploits Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia. However, when the Virgin group isn’t busy ferrying passengers across the globe, they have their eyes set on what’s above the sky. The group currently has two sky based exploits. Virgin Galactic is a project to launch space tourism. Meanwhile, Virgin Orbit is a project to launch satellites from a modified Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747.
Taking tourists to space
Virgin Galactic is a project set to attempt to make commercial space travel a realistic possibility. Currently, only a handful of specially trained astronauts have been to space. Most haven’t been past the international space station. However, Virgin Galactic aims to make it possible for people to travel to space without years of preparation.
However, if you want to sign up to go to space, you’re out of luck for now. At $250,000 the tickets aren’t cheap but amazingly, they are already sold out. There are some well-known names reportedly on the guest list including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
How does it work?
The process of getting paying passengers into space actually takes place in two parts. Initially, an aircraft known as WhiteKnightTwo climbs to an altitude of around 50,000 feet with the spacecraft strapped below. The spacecraft is then dropped from the bottom of the aircraft beginning a brief glide.
This is where things start to get interesting for the passengers. The rockets on the back of the spacecraft are fired, burning for about a minute. This climbs the spacecraft from around 50,000ft to around 270,000ft. The aircraft climbs to this height at a speed of roughly 2,225mph (3,580kmph). Following several minutes in microgravity, the aircraft begins to descend back towards the earth.
Boeing has pledged a $20 million investment into Virgin Galactic, equivalent to 80 tickets to space, or 16 full spacecraft missions. Brian Schettler is the senior managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures. He said about the investment: “Boeing’s strategic investment facilitates our effort to drive the commercialization of space and broaden consumer access to safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible new forms of transportation”
Sir Richard Branson added: “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”.
It is clear that Boeing is interested in Virgin Galactic’s vision to bring space travel to the masses. We can’t wait to see how Boeing’s strategic investment plays out for the two companies!
Do you think Boeing has made the right choice investing in Virgin Galactic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!