Filed under: Wings
Last time I wrote about Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan he was flying horses to Abu Dhabi. He's in the news again with a big purchase. The Telegraph reports that he has bought a 32 percent stake in Richard Branson's space tourism project, Virgin Galactic ,for $280 million. The deal, which was done through the sheikh's company Aabar, puts the value of Virgin Galactic at $900 million even though it hasn't begun to offer flights yet. The deal represents a significant vote for the viability and inevitable profitability of space travel. This deal means that Abu Dhabi will be hosting Virgin Galactic tourism and research flights. There is also a plan to build spaceport facilities in Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile Sir Richard Branson is showing off the WhiteKnightTwo (VMS Eve), at the Experimental Aircraft Association's 2009 AirVenture annual fly-in and convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The spacecraft that will carry the tourists, SpaceShipTwo, should begin testing later this year. No date for the start of commercial operations has been set yet but around 300 people have paid the $200,000 for an advance space ticket.