Emirati to win place on Virgin Galactic space flight

A nationwide competition has been launched by Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments, which has a 37.8 percent stake in Virgin Galactic
Emirati to win place on Virgin Galactic space flight
(Image Courtesy: Virgin Galactic)
By Beatrice Thomas
Sun 20 Apr 2014 11:42 AM

An Emirati will win the chance to travel into space on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo as part of a nationwide competition announced on Sunday by Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments.

The company, which has a 37.8 percent stake in Virgin Galactic, which is owned by British billionaire Richard Branson, said in a statement that the prize winner would be given a place onboard SpaceShipTwo when it begins running commercial trips into space.

A ticket on the spaceship costs $250,000, with Virgin Galactic boss George Whitesides saying this month in Abu Dhabi that it had signed up 700 customers.

He also said it was aiming for a launch “towards the end of the year”.

On the latest announcement, Whitesides, said: “The specifics of the competition are being finalised but this is an ideal way for us all to give something back to the community of the UAE.

“Without the support of Aabar Investments this programme would not be where it is today. We are on the precipice of achieving our first goal – our first flight to space – which is expected to take place later this year.”

Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) are the parent company of Aabar Investments and will be involved in running the competition, the statement said.

Whitesides said at the Aerospace Summit at the start of April that he would take one of the latter test flights, before his boss took off on the first commercial space flight with his family.

“Sir Richard flying on the first commercial flight has been a great sign to our customers that we're not going to let him fly until we think it's ready. Correspondingly, I think I should fly soon before Richard just to make sure that he knows that I fully believe in the technology,” he said.

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