Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has announced to invest $1 billion in billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of an investment summit in Riyadh and it comes a month after the Virgin Group founder said he would invest in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project that aims to turn 50 Saudi islands into luxury tourism destinations.
Branson said “This investment will enable us to develop the next generation of satellite launches and accelerate our program for point to point supersonic space travel.”
He also added that Virgin Galactic was just “months away” from going into space with people on board and his other company Virgin Orbit launching satellites around the Earth.
Virgin Galactic emphasized last year that commercial space flights would not be available until they could be done safely.
The company’s efforts were hampered when the first version of the SpaceShipTwo disintegrated over California’s Mojave Desert in October 2014. Saudi Arabia’s investment appears to be part of collaboration with Branson, who heaped lavish praise on the kingdom’s economic and social reforms lead by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“I am so excited about Saudi Arabia,” Branson told the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.