Virgin Galactic and affiliated manufacturing firm Spaceship Co. announced Friday signing an agreement with two Italian companies to bring spaceflights to the European country.
The agreement between Virgin Galactic and Spaceship Co., both in Mojave, and Sitael S.p.A. and Aerospace Logistics Technology Engineering Co. S.p.A. will have a dedicated spacecraft based at the future Grottaglie Spaceport.
The spacecraft, to be built by Spaceship Co., would be used by private individuals for trips to sub-orbital altitudes to experience space flight as well as by the Italian Space Agency as a science platform for high-frequency space research.
Sitael is the largest privately owned space company in Italy with headquarters in the Puglia region, while Aerospace Logistics is a public-private company owned by the Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, called Italy a natural home to great innovators and breakthrough ideas.
“This partnership could see Virgin Galactic launch the first person in history into space from Italian soil – and in fact from any European territory,” Branson said in a statement. “Together, we will help to expand opportunities for science, industry and the millions of people who dream of experiencing space for themselves.”
Virgin Galactic is currently testing its SpaceShipTwo space vehicle at the Mojave Air & Space Port. It is developing its space vehicle to take passengers to sub-orbital altitudes to experience weightlessness and then return to Earth.