Spaceport chief to head Abu Dhabi venture

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has chosen the mastermind responsible for creating the world’s first purpose built commercial spaceport to head its second space venture in Abu Dhabi.

Under a deal announced in 2009 between Virgin Galactic and Aabar Investments, it was agreed that Abu Dhabi would gain exclusive regional rights, subject to regulatory clearances, to host Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights.

The two businesses have now appointed Steve Landeene to the role of chief advisor, Spaceport Abu Dhabi.

Between 2007 and 2010, Landeene was executive director of Spaceport America in New Mexico and oversaw the development of Virgin Galactic’s operational hub and the world’s first purpose built commercial spaceport.

Landeene will be responsible for developing a roadmap for the proposed construction of a spaceport in Abu Dhabi. Starting from strategic and organisational business planning, and then, if regulatory approval is obtained, moving through to spaceport construction management and finally to spaceport operations.

George Whitesides, CEO and president of Virgin Galactic added: “Steve’s appointment comes at a particularly exciting time for Virgin Galactic as we move into the final stages of test flights prior to commercial operations at Spaceport America. It also reinforces the strategic partnership we enjoy with Aabar. From the start, both companies have shared a common vision for the future of commercial space and for the opportunity it presents to Abu Dhabi.”

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