Virgin Galactic just announced a new partnership with two Italian aerospace companies, aiming to launch commercial spaceflight from the country in the future. The partners are Altec, a company partly owned by the Italian Space Agency, and Sitael, Italy’s largest private space company.
“From the Renaissance to modern space science, Italy has always been a natural home to great innovators and breakthrough ideas which have shaped the human experience,” Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said in a statement. “I believe Italy’s vision, which has led to this collaboration with our Virgin space companies, will provide a real impetus as we strive to open space for the benefit of life on Earth.”
The reason behind the partnership is simple, building an Italian spaceport from which the future flights to space can launch. The spaceport will serve both private, commercial flights, as well as public efforts initiated by the Italian Space Agency.
“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. “Together, we will help to expand opportunities for science, industry and the millions of people who dream of experiencing space for themselves.”
For the past few months, Richard Branson’s spaceflight company has been testing its VSS Unity spacecraft. The company has already conducted two test flights, one in April, and another in May. Branson has been undergoing astronaut training and said his own trip in space is months away.