On Tuesday morning, Boeing announced that it intends to invest $20 million in Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by Richard Branson.
Virgin Galactic is currently in the process of finalizing an $800 million deal to merge with Social Capital Hedosophia, which will result in it becoming a publicly traded company. That’s expected to happen before the end of 2019. Boeing’s investment will come as a result of buying shares in the publicly traded entity.
In a statement, the two companies hinted they would be working on projects together, but only said that information about them would be “shared in the future.”
Both companies are readying to put humans in space within the next few months. Virgin Galactic has successfully taken astronauts into suborbital space and is preparing for its first commercial flights. In August, the company revealed the interiors of its new spaceport. To date, the company has sold 603 tickets to fly on its spacecraft and said it will resume selling tickets once it has begun commercial operations.
Boeing is currently working on its Starliner crewed capsule, which it’s developing under a contract with NASA. (Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also developing a crewed space capsule for NASA under the same program.) Once completed, the capsule is intended to take astronauts to the International Space Station, ending the space agency’s reliance on Russian spacecraft to ferry astronauts back and forth. The company is expected to make its first orbital test flight for Starliner shortly, though the exact timing has yet to be announced.