Virgin Galactic is partnering with two Italian aerospace companies to help bring a commercial spaceport to life in the future of the European country.
The American space company has brokered an agreement with Altec- a company owned by the Italian Space Agency- as well as Sitael, which is a privately-owned business. Each are some of the biggest in this field for Italy, making them at Virgin Galactic's level. The reason for this collaboration is to be able to create a spaceport that will make commercial space flight possible in Italy.
The ultimate goal is to create a space vehicle for Grottaglie Spaceport, the future spaceport in question. This will be used for both public and private flights that are either leaving or coming into Italy. This means that the spaceport would be accessible for not just the Italian Space Agency, but for Italian citizens willing to pay a high price tag to visit space.
This isn't the first deal between Virgin and Italy, reported The Verge. In a press release from the former back in December 2017, Virgin Galactic struck a partnership with the Italian Space Agency. This was struck in the hopes of completing a mission to space in Italy by the end of 2019. In addition, parent company Virgin Orbit issued a press release last week to announce a partnership with Sitael to do satellite launches and invest in launch systems.
Despite the excitement of the recent news, none of the three companies — Virgin Galactic, Altec, or Sitael — have given any sort of timeline for when such flights would occur, let alone the spaceport's development. It seems as though right now that these companies are working on a framework for their ambitions of getting space flights to come and go from Grottaglie Spaceport.
A project of this size will clearly take plenty of time to be built and practice before there could be any public or private use of it. Still, this partnership has already created excitement for those in and out of the space industry. It will be extremely interesting to witness the development of Italy's new commercial spaceport, as well as how much use it will get from companies and citizens alike. Clearly, the space industry in Italy has a lot to look forward to.