Manchester City football clubowner Sheikh Mansour has added space travel to his diverse portfolio of businesses by buying 32 per cent of Virgin Galactic.

The deal, which was done through the sheikh’s company Aabar, puts the value of Virgin Galactic at $900 million even though it hasn’t begun to offer flights yet.

In return it will gain regional rights to host Virgin Galactic tourism and research flights, and is planning to build spaceport facilities in Abu Dhabi.

It has also committed $100m to fund plans to launch satellites.

sheikh mansour

The announcement comes as Sir Richard unveils the so-called mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, for his space tourism plans at the Oshkosh air convention in the US.

Virgin has invested more than $100m into Virgin Galactic since its formation in late 2004 and expects the spacecraft that will carry the tourists, SpaceShipTwo, to begin testing later this year.

No date for the start of commercial operations has been set yet but around 300 people have paid the $200,000 for an advance space ticket.

Source: The Telegraph