Oct. 8 (UPI) -- An exploratory division of U.S. aviation giant Boeing will make a $20 million investment for a stake in space tourism company Virgin Galactic, officials said Tuesday.
Boeing's venture arm HorizonX will make the investment, which gives the Chicago-based company a minority stake in Virgin Galactic and will boost the latter's valuation to $1.5 billion.
"This investment brings together two companies with extensive experience in the space industry," Boeing said in a statement. "Virgin Galactic is a pioneer of commercial human space flight and is the first and only company to have put humans into space in a vehicle built for commercial service.
"A part of every U.S. manned space program, Boeing serves as NASA's prime contractor for the International Space Station and is preparing the new, reusable, Starliner space capsule for launch to the ISS."
Officials said the partnership has long been in the planning stages.
"Our teams have been talking for quite some time now," Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides told CNBC. "The broader capabilities of Boeing are unmatched in mobility and experience in human spaceflight, so we're over the moon about this partnership."
Virgin Galactic said it has more than 600 customers ready to fly into space and interest from another 3,000.