Final frontier: $250k ticket to space up for grabs in UAE competition

Emirati national to be given free seat on board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, according to its UAE backers

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One UAE national is set to venture into the ‘final frontier’, following the launch of a competition to win a $250,000 ticket into space, it was announced today.

Space-tourism company Virgin Galactic and its UAE backer Aabar Investments say Emiratis will be given a chance to win a seat aboard SpaceShipTwo when it begins commercial trips to space.


The winner will be blasted into orbit to a distance of 60 miles above the Earth.

“The specifics of the competition are being finalized but this is an ideal way for us all to give something back to the community of the UAE,” Virgin Galactic chief George Whitesides said in a statement.

“Without the support of Aabar Investments this programme would not be where it is today. We are on the precipice of achieving our first goal – our first flight to space – which is expected to take place later this year.”

The Abu Dhabi-based Aabar owns a stake in Sir Richard Branson’s company. Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), the parent company of Aabar, will also be involved in running the competition, according to a statement.

Virgin Galactic, part of Branson’s vast business empire, first intended to launch flights to orbit in 2007. The company did not respond to a request for additional comment when contacted by Al Arabiya News.

Branson said in Dubai in February that the long-delayed liftoff would finally take place this summer.

While the company will offer ‘space tourism’ trips, the ultimate aim is to offer long-haul flights – such as between London and Australia – at the fraction of the current flying time.

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