Virgin Galactic teams up with NASA to pursue high-speed air travel

Virgin Galactic has recently endured a rocky road financially, with substantial losses in the last two quarters, but is intent on pushing ahead with the development of next-gen aviation technologies – this time with NASA onboard. The company has today announced a new partnership with the space agency, which will see the two work together to accelerate the age of high-speed vehicles for commercial aviation.

Back In February, Virgin Galactic launched a new program to secure reservations for its first suborbital flights via US$1,000 deposits, with 400 folks making the downpayment since. This came as the company reported a $73-million loss in the final quarter of 2019, which has been followed by a $60-million loss in the first quarter of 2020.

While it hopes demand among tourists wanting to travel to the edge of space can continue to address revenue shortages, the company is simultaneously setting its sights a little closer to home. The new Space Act Agreement with NASA, which also includes Virgin Galactic subsidiary The Spaceship Company, is geared toward producing high-Mach vehicles for potential civil applications in the US, with the company hoping to tap into the agency’s expertise in engineering and flight testing to that end.

“This Space Act Agreement will enable NASA to collaborate with Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company to allow our organizations to take advantage of new tools, techniques, and technologies developed over the last 50 years and to explore potential new solutions for the commercial aviation industry,” says Dr. James Kenyon, Director of the NASA Aeronautics Advanced Air Vehicles Program.

According to Virgin Galactic, the collaboration will seek to develop develop high-speed air vehicles for point-to-point travel in the US, with a big focus on customer experience and environmental sustainability.

“Virgin Galactic’s unique experience and innovative technology platform will, in partnership with the historic capabilities of NASA and other government agencies, enable the progression of new technical steps that will improve US competitiveness,” says George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic Holdings. “We see this as an area with tremendous growth potential that we will continue to invest in, alongside our commercial spaceflight operations.”

Source: Virgin Galactic

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