Virgin Galactic’s Steve Landeene is over at the Global Space and Satellite Forum in Abu Dhabi this week, where he talked about the company’s plans for a spaceport there. The highlights:
- Space tourists could begin flying into space from Abu Dhabi beginning in the 2015-2016 time frame.
- A decision is still pending on whether to fly from an existing airport or to build a spaceport from scratch.
- “The most likely way forward is phased approach, starting with an existing infrastructure and then migration as you become more established.”
- No regulatory framework yet exists in the United Arab Emirates to support spaceflight.
- ITAR and MTCR are hurdles to exporting SpaceShipTwo, WhiteKnightTwo and LauncherOne overseas.
- There is a possibility that SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo could be manufactured in the UAE.
- Virgin Galactic is working with Khalifa University on developing an educational program that would fly experiments into space.
Aabar Investments, a company owned by the Abu Dhabi government, has put up most of the money for the development of SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo. Aabar has invested $490 million in Virgin Galactic and owns 37.8 percent of the company. The investment includes $390 million for an equity share in Virgin Galactic and $100 million to fund LauncherOne.
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