Space is the next frontier for PSPCs, with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit announcing a deal on Monday in which Boeing will be an investor.
The satellite launch startup said its merger with NextGen Acquisition would raise up to $ 483 million in new capital, including $ 100 million of private equity investment, or PIPE, funding led by Boeing and space investor AE Industrial Partners.
Proceeds from the deal, which values Virgin Orbit at around $ 3.2 billion, will be used to expand its services and speed up launches, with six expected next year.
“I am very happy that we are bringing Virgin Orbit to the public, with the support of our partners at NextGen and our other wonderful investors,” Branson said in a press release. “This is another important step in enabling everyone working today to create space technology that will positively change the world. “
Branson’s Virgin Group currently owns 80% of Virgin Orbit, with Mubadala Investment, the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund, holding the remainder.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Virgin Orbit’s planned listing comes as investors increasingly bet on falling costs of access to space for business, tourism and scientific research.” Morgan Stanley predicts the space industry will grow from $ 350 billion a year in 2016 to over $ 1,000 billion by 2040.
Virgin Orbit, which was derived from tourism company Virgin Galactic in 2017, is one of several startups building miniaturized launch systems to take advantage of the expected surge in demand for compact satellites. It operates the LauncherOne system, which includes a two-stage rocket launched from a Boeing 747.
“Virgin Orbit has completed two successful satellite launches this year, making the company a small group of small satellite launch vendors capable of delivering flight-proven hardware,” the Journal reported.
NextGen Acquisition is led by former Goldman Sachs banker George Mattson and Greg Summe, a former senior executive of the Carlyle Group.
“The space economy is developing rapidly and Virgin Orbit is well positioned to benefit from its ability to launch competitively anytime, from any location on Earth, to any orbit and tilt,” said Mattson and Summe.