Change is happening on a number of fronts in Saudi Arabia. The Crown Prince His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud has started to loosen societal restrictions and encourage a more progressive stance on areas such as women’s rights. There have been small steps to date but he is committed to bringing about these modern changes.
At the same time, the Crown Prince is making some bold economic moves as he guides the Kingdom away from its dependence on oil. On Tuesday he announced plans for a $500 billion new city in the north of the Kingdom and today I’m pleased to announce the intention of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), pending approval by the US government, to invest approximately $1 billion into our US based space companies, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit.
This is exciting news for our companies. For our wonderful staff, customers and partners, this investment is a sign of confidence from the international investment community that our vision, our approach and our technology are the right path to commercialising space access. Both VSS Unity and LauncherOne are poised to reach significant technical milestones in the run-up to launch, and we are eager to build out R&D and our US facilities to support next generation vehicles and services.
We are now just months away from Virgin Galactic sending people into space and Virgin Orbit placing satellites around the Earth. This investment will enable us to develop the next generation of human spaceflight, more economic satellite launches and accelerate our programme for trans-continental point-to-point space travel. It also includes the possibility to develop a space-centric entertainment industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
We will remain majority shareholders, and our companies will remain firmly rooted in Virgin brand values and based in southern California and New Mexico.
It is also exciting news for the people of Saudi Arabia. As I wrote before, it is time of transformational change in the country’s history thanks to Crown Prince and his bold Vision 2030. The country is putting its oil wealth into growing other sectors such as education, entertainment, tourism, and future forward technology.
Their wish to invest in our space technology is positive progress of the larger societal transformation the Crown Prince seeks to bring to his country and citizens.
We look forward to welcoming KSA as our partners in opening access to space to change the world for good.