Richard Branson’s space company Virgin Galactic has announced a new deal that with bring spaceflights to Italy, where the company plans to build a spaceport for future suborbital launches. The company is keeping its headquarters in New Mexico, where it has its Spaceport America facility. ENAC, Italy’s aviation authority, has already chosen a location for the future flights.
The agreement follows two years of work, according to Virgin Galactic, which says a variety of efforts went into the arrangement, not the least of which was analysis by government regulators and market assessments.
The deal covers a new framework agreement and was signed by both Altec and Sitael CEOs in addition to Branson. Talking about the deal is company founder Richard Branson, who said:
From the Renaissance to modern space science, Italy has always been a natural home to great innovators and breakthrough ideas which have shaped the human experience. I believe Italy’s vision which has led to this collaboration with our Virgin space companies, will provide a real impetus as we strive to open space for the benefit of life on Earth. This partnership could see Virgin Galactic launch the first person in history into space from Italian soil – and in fact from any European territory. Together, we will help to expand opportunities for science, industry and the millions of people who dream of experiencing space for themselves.
The Taranto-Grottaglie Airport has been selected for future horizontal spaceflight launches that will take place in Italy. The Grottaglie Spaceport, as it has been named, will include a framework designed by Sitael in partnership with Virgin and Altec.
Assuming everything goes according to plan, Virgin’s “The Spaceship Company” will create a dedicated space vehicle system destined for use at the Italian spaceport. However, regulatory approvals will need to be acquired before this can happen.
SOURCE: Virgin Galactic