Virgin Galactic signs deal for spaceflights in Italy

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, known as VSS Unity, is hooked onto its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Virgin Galactic Photo)

Virgin Galactic and a pair of Italian companies today signed a framework agreement aimed at bringing Virgin Galactic’s launch system to a future spaceport in the heel of Italy’s “boot.”

The suborbital space launch system would be based at Taranto-Grottaglie Airport, which Italian public-private partners aim to turn into a spaceport.

Although the companies didn’t announce a time frame for the start of operations, one of the executives involved said in May that the spaceport “could be active as early as 2020.”

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Virgin Galactic strikes deal to fly Italian scientist

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity glides through a test flight. (Virgin Galactic Photo)

Virgin Galactic and the Italian Space Agency say they’ve signed a letter of intent to send an Italian payload specialist and scientific experiments on a suborbital space mission in 2019.

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