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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Abu Dhabi partners with Virgin Galactic spaceship firm

• http://abcnews.go.com, By Adam Schreck
Aabar Investments' buy-in gives British billionaire Sir Richard Branson's space tourism venture a big financial kickstart at a time when many funding sources have dried up because of the global recession. It also gives the wealthy Persian Gulf sheikdom of Abu Dhabi a chance to build its own space flight industry as it broadens its economy beyond the oil sector.

Aabar will buy a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic's holding company.

In exchange, the state-controlled fund will acquire "exclusive regional rights" to launch Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights from the United Arab Emirates capital.

"The significant partnership not only falls in line with Abu Dhabi's larger plans to inculcate technology research and science at a grassroots level but also complements its aim to be the international tourism capital of the region," Aabar Chairman Khadem al-Qubaisi said.

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