The spaceflight company sees a natural expansion to the aerial mobility industry in its future.
Sir Richard Branson’s spaceflight company, Virgin Galactic, is currently developing commercial spacecraft with which it aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to tourists and suborbital launches for science missions. Virgin Galactic plans to provide orbital human spaceflights as well. As the company branches out from its original goal of taking tourists into space, it contemplates a move into “flying cars” that could transport passengers across cities. This announcement comes after the company released information just last week regarding its transition to being a publicly traded entity.
An SEC filing ahead of the company’s upcoming reverse listing, in which it will float shares on Wall Street via a merger with a Silicon Valley investment vehicle, reveal that the company is exploring “urban air mobility” as one potential use of its technology. The merger and Virgin Galactic’s reverse listing will make it the first publicly traded space tourism company. Sir Richard Branson will own a 51 percent stake of the combined firm post-merger by the end of the year, which is valued at $1.3 billion in total.
Virgin Galactic’s SEC filing included the following statement:
Other potential applications of our technology include urban air mobility, or the ability to enable rapid, reliable transportation within cities and urban areas; captive carry and launch services; and high altitude long endurance vehicles. While our primary focus for the foreseeable future will be on commencing and managing our commercial human spaceflight operations, we expect to continue to explore and evaluate the application of our technologies into these and other ancillary applications.
The Virgin Group is not the first well-established company contemplating trying its hand in the aerial mobility industry. Boeing, for example, has recently unveiled prototypes of its Passenger and Cargo Air Vehicles, both of which can be found in our Hangar. Meanwhile, Uber is also planning an aerial mobility service for urban areas, and plans to begin service in its launch cities – Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne – by 2023.
Virgin Galactic, despite setbacks in the recent years, has already sold 600 seats on journeys to suborbital flight, which cost around $250,000 each, but says its technology could be used for other purposes, including dramatically reducing the time of trans-continental flights and eventually aerial mobility.
Why it’s important: Virgin Galactic has gained public exposure with the marketing of its space tourism flights in recent years, and seeks to grow its presence in the aerospace industry to leverage various new business opportunities as they arise. In fact, subsidiary company TSC has already held discussions with US aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky, which is owned by Lockheed Martin, about urban aircraft.
Source // The Telegraph