Virgin Galactic is in talks with potential partners in Abu Dhabi for construction of spaceport and inauguration of commercial space flights later this year.
Abu Dhabi’s hopes of locating a 21st century in the emirate have received a major boost as Virgin Galactic is said to be in negotiations with “appropriate Abu Dhabi entities” regarding the construction of a spaceport. In 2005, the group entered into an agreement with the State of New Mexico to establish a state-funded USD 200 million spaceport. Named as Spaceport America, the facility was designed to serve as Virgin Galactic’s headquarters and world’s first commercial spaceport.
Speaking to The National, a Virgin Galactic spokeswoman says that, “depending on the progress of the last portion of the experimental test flight programme and the federal aviation authority licensing process we hope to be undertaking full space test flights by the end of 2013 and in commercial operations within a relatively short period thereafter”.
Location of the purpose-built spaceport in Abu Dhabi is expected to spur foreign investment and regional interest in space tourism. Investment in the sector would help the UAE to further diversify its economy and create a variety of highly-skilled jobs in the region. The National reports that at least 10 of these aspiring 570 space travelers live in the Middle East.
You can read more on Virgin Galactic’s Abu Dhabi spaceport plan on The National.