Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Goes Public With Extravagant Promises to Keep

Richard Branson wears the SpaceShipTwo flight suit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

After 15 years of making extravagant but unkept promises to fly more than 600 “future astronauts” to space, Richard Branson must now please an entirely new group of people who are usually much shorter on patience: shareholders.

Following the completion last week of a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), the British billionaire’s Virgin Galactic suborbital “space line” will begin trading under its own name on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Monday.

Going public now is an unusual move for a space tourism company that hasn’t flown a singlet tourist to space since Branson announced the SpaceShipTwo program in 2004. Some might see it has putting the cart before the horse.

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Reaction Engines: New Investors Bring “Invaluable Expertise” to SABRE Program

SABRE engine (Credit: Reaction Engines)

ABINGTON, UK, 12 April 2018 (Reaction Engines PR) – Reaction Engines Limited (‘Reaction Engines’) today announced that it has raised a further £26.5 million in a strategic fundraising by securing backing from some of the most influential names in aerospace and finance which will support its development of SABRE™ – a revolutionary new class of aerospace engine combining jet and rocket technologies.

New strategic investors are Boeing HorizonX Ventures, the investment arm of Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defence, space and security systems; and Rolls-Royce, a pre-eminent engineering company focused on world class power and propulsion systems whose experience and capability in building complex engine systems is well known.

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Reaction Engines Receives $37.6 Million Investment

Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)

Reaction Engines has received a large investment by Boeing HorizonX and two other companies, CNBC reports.

The U.S. industrial giant joined Rolls-Royce and defense company BAE Systems in a $37.6 million fundraising round for U.K.-based propulsion company Reaction Engines. This is both the second foreign investment and the second space investment for Boeing HorizonX Ventures, which contributed to the $15 million funding round for Australian satellite company Myriota last month.

Reaction Engines’ advanced propulsion “could change the future of air and space travel,” according to Boeing HorizonX vice president Steve Nordlund.

“We expect to leverage their revolutionary technology to support Boeing’s pursuit of hypersonic flight,” Nordlund said in a statement.

Reaction Engines, which has now raised more than $140 million over the last three years, is developing a hybrid jet and rocket engine. In theory, the company’s SABRE engine will be capable of operating as a jet at take-off and transitioning to a rocket at higher altitudes.