TECH

Is Google About To Buy A Stake In Virgin Galactic?

12/06/2014 14:58 BST | Updated 12/06/2014 14:59 BST

Google is reportedly planning on taking a stake in Sir Richard Branson's private space travel business.

Virgin Galactic is planning on sending tourists into the lower regions of space as soon as late this year, after more than a decade of testing and planning.

Crucial technical hurdles and red tape remain in place before those flights can begin, but millions has already been raised from wealthy daredevils spending more than £100,000 for a place on board.

Now it appears that Google is readying a deal to take a stake in the idea.

virgin galactic

Sky News reported that it is looking to invest in the tech as part of a plan to put hundreds of small satellites into low-Earth obit.

It comes a day after Google spent $500 m on Skybox Imaging, another start-up satellite company.

The two-part deal will likely see Google spend hundreds of millions on a joint venture using Virgin's tech to launch satellites.

Branson and Google co-founder Larry Page have reportedly already revised the name "Virgle" for future projects. It's not known if that name might be used here, however.

The second would see Google spend $30 million in return for a small stake in Virgin Galactic itself.

That deal would value Virgin Galactic at more than £1.2 billion, despite never having launched a paying customer into space.

Prior to the Google deal - if it goes through - Virgin Galactic has already accepted equity investments from other partners, including Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments who bought one third of the company for $280 million.