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Virgin Galactic Sponsors F1

25.04.09

Virgin Galactic Sponsors F1

Virgin Galactic sponsors Brawn GP team cars for Bahrain Grand Prix

STATEMENT BY SIR RICHARD BRANSON

“We are delighted that this weekend’s sponsor of the Brawn GP team cars is Virgin Galactic…two flagship technology projects coming together in Bahrain for what promises to be the most exciting race of an already breathtaking season. Virgin Galactic is the leading technology project for the Virgin brand, developing a space launch system fit for the 21st century. The principles on which we are operating are based on establishing environmentally benign space launch using the very latest carbon composite materials combined with new techniques and technologies such as air launch, hybrid rocket motors and sustainable fuels, all of which will dramatically lower the energy and cost requirements for access to space. Transforming the safety, economics and environmental impact of space launch will in turn allow the next generation of private individuals, scientists and satellite technologies to reap the enormous and essential benefits that space offers us here on earth – literally making Space for Earth.

Virgin Galactic is using revolutionary but proven technology and is on the final stretch of its development phase before we launch the commercial operation. Our new carrier aircraft Virgin Mothership Eve, the world’s largest and most fuel efficient all composite aviation vehicle, is now well into its test flight programme and is performing beautifully. It will be carrying and launching SpaceShipTwo later this year.

We have established and proven without doubt that our first market – space tourism – is a large and vibrant one which will in itself make this business a commercial success. We now have around 300 future astronauts from over 40 countries including several from the Gulf States. However we have not yet signed up Bahrain’s very first astronaut, although judging by the interest I’ve seen in the past 24 hours, I have a feeling we will done that by the end of the Grand Prix on Sunday!

Construction of our future US Headquarters at Spaceport America in New Mexico, designed by Lord Foster, is now underway and will provide a base from which we can extend our spaceflight operation to locations around the world –perhaps following a similar model to that which has been so successfully developed by Formula One. We have been convinced for some time that, with the right regulatory clearances, the Middle East offers exactly the right criteria for Virgin Galactic space launches, not just for space tourism but for science research and small satellite launch. I am pleased to say that we are in discussions with a small number of investor groups in the Gulf, interested in bringing manned space flight, space based scientific projects and a transformational satellite launch system to the region.

Our space launch system designer is Burt Rutan, who is to aviation what Ross Brawn is to Formula One. They are both brilliant engineers using new materials technologies and cutting edge ideas to change the face of their respective industries forever. That’s the reason Virgin has backed Burt to build Virgin Galactic’s revolutionary spaceship and it is the reason we are backing Ross Brawn to create one of the greatest teams in Formula One. The world is in a race to find technology solutions before the pressures of population and planet overtake our ability to achieve what history tells us we are capable of and it is people like Burt Rutan and Ross Brawn who must be supported in making change happen. That is why we are particularly delighted to see the Virgin Galactic logo on the Brawn GP cars this weekend.”

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