Virgin Galactic, the private spaceflight and satellite launch company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, has just released its first television commercial.
The commercial features both Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight service for wealthy individuals seeking a flight into suborbital space; and also for its proposed small satellite launch services that will be provided by a modified Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet with a small rocket booster strapped to its underside that will then be launched at altitude into low-earth orbit.
Aabar Invastments PJS is thought to own approximately 38 percent of Virgin Galactic, a share that is thought to be worth at least US$380 million. In return for this stake Aabar Investments holds regional rights (presumably for the Middle East) to launch space tourism and small satellite launches from Abu Dhabi in the future.
Virgin Galactic already operates out of a purpose-built spaceport in New Mexico in the southwest part of the United States. Virgin Space Ships (VSS) are still being developed and tested, and the company is still some way off from providing its services to paying customers. In October 2014 VSS Enterprise broke apart in mid-flight over the Mojave Desert in California, United States, killing one crew- member and injuring the other.
In September 2015 Virgin Galactic announced that a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 airliner is to be converted into a MotherShip known as ‘Cosmic Girl’, in order to take a LauncherOne booster to altitudes of thousands of metres, and then launch a payload weighing up to 200-230 kilograms into low-earth orbit. The Boeing 747-400 is being converted this year and is expected to carry out launch tests of LauncherOne sometime in 2017.
The commercial was posted to YouTube by Virgin Galactic on 25 April 2016 and has gone viral since then on the Internet.