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Saudi Arabia and Virgin Galactic will cooperate in space flights, satellite launches and space tourism

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and the Virgin Group announced Saudi Arabia's intention to invest about one billion dollars in Virgin Galactic, the company that manufactures spacecraft, and Virgin Orbit of the Virgin Group, which deals with launching satellites.

Virgin's SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, known as VSS Unity, is carried aboard its mother plane on a test flight on September 8, 2016. Source: Virgin Galactic.
Virgin's SpaceShipTwo model spacecraft, the machine VSS Unity, carried aboard its mother plane on a test flight on September 8, 2016. Source: Virgin Galactic.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia and the Virgin Galactic Group signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the partnership, under which the investment fund will invest approximately one billion dollars in the spacecraft manufacturing company Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit, with the possibility of additional investment, in the future, in the scope of an additional 480 million dollars in space services.

The agreement was reached between Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Economic and Development Council of the International Monetary Fund, and Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. The strategic direction for the partnership was made by the Saudi Ministry of Economy and Planning.

The partnership between the Investment Fund (PIF) and Virgin creates a strong basis for promoting innovative technologies as part of Saudi Arabia's plan to promote a modern and diversified economy as part of its 2030 vision.

The Saudi prince, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud said: "The partnership with the Virgin Group reflects the great steps the kingdom is taking in our vision for a knowledge-based and diversified economy. The future of Saudi Arabia is one of innovation, as can be seen in the future investment initiative that was agreed upon this week, and through partnerships with organizations such as the Virgin Group, we will actively contribute to those technologies and sectors that drive progress on a global level."

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as our new partner in Virgin Galactic, the spacecraft company, Virgin Orbit, under the leadership of His Majesty Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. We are now just months away from Virgin Galactic's manned space flights, and Virgin Orbit's launch of satellites around the Earth. This investment will allow us to develop the next generation of satellite launches and accelerate our plan for point-to-point supersonic space tourism."

Powered test flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. Source: Virgin Galactic.
Powered test flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. source: Virgin Galactic.

Aliron Yaron, CEO of Galactic Dreamlines, Virgin Galactic's representative in Israel: "In our estimation, by 2023 the first Israeli space tourist will fly into space in Virgin Galactic's private spacecraft, and many more Israelis will fly into space after him. In not many years, a private flight into space will be a very popular attraction in Israel's upper ion."

The memorandum of understanding was signed by Yasser bin Othman Al-Romayin, CEO of the Saudi Arabian Fund, and Patrick McCall, senior CEO of the Virgin Group, as part of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) taking place this week in Riyadh.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the intended investment will result in the fund investing a significant stake in Virgin Galactic, the spacecraft company, and Virgin Orbit, alongside Virgin Group and ABAR Investments (ABAR) from Abu Dhabi. The investment will support the company's commercial space flight plans and accelerate Virgin Orbit's production and operational capabilities. The investment will also enable the development of the next generation of small satellite launch systems using low-cost methods and capabilities for point-to-point commercial sonic space flights, and will enable the development of space entertainment and leisure industries in Saudi Arabia.

The companies and the foundation will cooperate and follow an agreed roadmap on a monthly basis to promote Saudi Arabia's space industry - in line with the relevant laws, including US export controls.

See more on the subject on the science website:

2 תגובות

  1. The Saudis have an extensive covert network of purchasing hi-tech companies. The majority will not be found in information available online. A lot of friends
    that have a connection in Israel and also those that do business with Israel: AMD, companies that develop measuring devices for the electricity grid. I would not underestimate them or anyone. They have a thin layer of intellectuals and businessmen compared to us but wide compared to us. For example, Erdogan has indirect ownership (someone on his behalf) in one of the largest and most critical factories in Israel. I deliberately do not mention the name of the factory. How is it possible: money has no smell - both on Israel's side and on our side. But what - this is a pressure point during a crisis. There is a situation where the economy there will collapse, because an economy built on foreign companies is not enough

  2. The Saudis are trying to put money in big bets, hoping that one of the bets will succeed and save them from the bankruptcy they are speeding towards, which is expected in about 5 years. But so far the royal family has squeezed the economy to the last drop, and there is no reason for it to stop. Expect a Syrian-style rebellion/riot/uprising when the money to import food runs out.

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