Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which hopes to fly paying passengers into space on suborbital trajectories, signed an agreement yesterday at the Oshkosh (WI) air show with the Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments group, swapping 32 percent of the company for $280 million. At the same show, attendees got to see a flight of WhiteKnightTwo, which will provide an aerial platform for launching the passenger-carrying SpaceShipTwo above the atmosphere. Virgin Galactic would like to see the WhiteKnightTwo used to launch small payloads into orbit, in a similar fashion to the way in which Orbital Sciences’ Pegasus launcher operates. The money from Aabar will go toward developing Virgin Galactic’s orbital capability, and it’s hoped the first satellite launches can take place in three years.
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