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Tue 28 Jul 2009 05:20 PM

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$280m deal paves way for Abu Dhabi space flights

Aabar has bought a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic - 'the world’s first spaceline'.

Aabar Investments on Tuesday paved the way for space flights out of Abu Dhabi after it bought a 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic, a company dubbing itself “the world’s first spaceline”, for $280m.

The deal gives the Abu Dhabi controlled investment firm exclusive regional rights to host Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights from its planned spaceport facilities in the UAE capital.

The company has committed an additional $100m to fund a small satellite launch capability.

“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,” said Aabar chairman Khadem Al Qubaisi.

Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of developing a vehicle it believes will transform the cost, safety and environmental impact of travelling into space.

The company expects Tuesday’s capital infusion to fully fund the company through to the launch of commercial operations.

“The initiative will leverage the solid financial backing of Aabar and the pioneering technology and strong global relationships of Virgin Galactic. This exciting deal is indicative of the interesting and high value investments that mark the UAE’s commercial portfolio,” said Richard Branson, chairman and founder of the Virgin Group.

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