Virgin Galactic is going to open their second spaceport in Italy and they’re partnering with two Italian aerospace companies to do it.
Grottaglie is a small, picturesque town in the south of Italy right on the heel of the boot--the kind of place you imagine when thinking of ancient, classically Italian architecture. You can practically taste the mozzarella just by looking at photos of the place.
There’s not a lot going on in terms of economic output in Grottaglie, but that’s all about to change.
Virgin Galactic has just announced that they’ll be opening a brand new spaceport in Grottaglie thanks to a partnership between the British-owned space business and Italian firms Altec and Siteal.
Altec stands for Aerospace Logistics Technology Engineering Company and is owned by the Italian Space Agency. Siteal is Italy’s largest privately-owned aerospace company that specializes in satellites and space-bound vehicles.
"This partnership could see Virgin Galactic launch the first person in history into space from Italian soil - and in fact from any European territory,” said Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Galactic. “Together, we will help to expand opportunities for science, industry and the millions of people who dream of experiencing space for themselves."
Altec and Siteal will work with Virgin Galactic to build a new space plane that will be based in Grottaglie. Both companies will pool their technologies with Virgin’s proven prowess to launch Europe’s first spaceport.
Grottaglie spaceport will be open to any private citizen with the cash to be catapulted into space. And considering the deposit needed for Virgin Galactic’s American spaceport, that’s only going to be available to a select few.
It costs $250,000 to reserve your seat on VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic’s only working space plane. Unity is still currently undergoing testing at Virgin’s Mojave-based spaceport, with no timeline on when public flights will be made available.
Unity has thus far completed two powered flights as well as numerous glides but has yet to make it all the way to suborbital altitudes. Once there, passengers would experience a few minutes of weightlessness before the plane descends back down to Earth.