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Virgin Galactic selects Abu Dhabi for second spaceport

The emirate wants to transform itself into a commercial space travel hub.

virgin galactic abu dhabi spaceportEnlarge
Security personel mans his position in front of WhiteKnightTwo, carrying SpaceShipTwo, outside the Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America northeast of Truth Or Consequences, on October 17, 2011 in New Mexico. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Virgin Galactic has selected Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, as the site of its second spaceport, according to The National.

Mohamed Al Husseiny, an investor partner in the project, told the paper, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government, "This will become a regional hub for space tourism, as well as space-based science research and education."

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The selection is not a huge surprise; Al Husseini is chief executive of Aabar Investments, the investment arm of the government of Abu Dhabi, which according to Bloomberg owns a 37.8 percent stake in Virgin Galactic. 

The price of tickets into space are so high that the company could quickly be profitable. The company's costs so far stand at $200 million, and 500 people have already spent $200,000 each for a ticket, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides told Bloomberg.

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Mr. Whitesides said yesterday, "I look forward to the day when Virgin Galactic spaceships can be seen above this vibrant and forward-looking city and perhaps one day to see a future generation of our spaceships fly from here in Abu Dhabi to New Mexico in no more than an hour, the first city pair of a future in which the globe is brought closer together," according to The National.

The spaceport will be the home of a Space Ship Two, which holds a capsule called White Knight two, a vehicle that has space for six passengers and two crew members. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120418/virgin-galactic-selects-abu-dhabi-second-spaceport