The Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is seeking to invest $1 billion into the space companies of billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
If approved by the U.S. government, the Saudi’s primary wealth fund would put money into Virgin Galactic and Spaceship Co., both in Mojave, and Virgin Orbit in Long Beach.
In a blog post at the Virgin Group website, Branson said the investment will allow the company to continue developing the next generation of human spaceflight, more economic satellite launches and accelerate its program for trans-continental space travel.
“It also includes the possibility to develop a space-centric entertainment industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Branson wrote.
Virgin Galactic is a commercial space company developing a space vehicle to take passengers to sub-orbital altitude. The Spaceship Co. performs the manufacturing of the vehicle. Virgin Orbit is making a rocket, dubbed LauncherOne, to launch small payloads of up to 500 pounds into space at a lower cost.
Branson said in his post that Virgin Group remains the majority shareholder in the three companies. Aabar, a fund based in Abu Dhabi, has a minority stake in Virgin Galactic.