Space tourism port to be sited in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi: Tourists will be able to journey to outer space via Abu Dhabi as part of a deal by a local investment group to take a stake in the world`s first commercial space travel operator, the two companies said on Tuesday.
Aabar Investments said it plans to build a space port in
Abu Dhabi, capital of the seven-member United Arab Emirates
federation, after agreeing to buy about a 32 per cent stake in
the holding company of Virgin Galactic for USD 280 million,
valuing the business at around USD 900 million.
Aabar expects to spend another USD 100 million a small
satellite launch facility and will gain exclusive regional
rights to host Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research
space flights, it said.
"The significant partnership not only falls in line with
Abu Dhabi`s larger plans to inculcate technology research and
science at a grassroots level but also complements its aim to
be the international tourism capital of the region," Khadem
al-Qubaisi, chairman of Aabar, said.
Virgin Galactic, fully owned until now by Sir Richard
Branson`s Virgin Group, was set up in 2004 to provide
commercial space travel and the project is in its final stages
with the test flight programme underway.
About 300 people worldwide have paid USD 40 million in
deposits to book a seat to space, the statement said.
SpaceShipOne, the world`s first privately built manned
spaceship, flew safely to space and back three times in 2004,
according to the statement.
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