Boeing demands Virgin Galactic destroy all data from its failed space tourism partnership

There is a new drama unfolding in the aerospace industry. Boeing has filed a lawsuit against Virgin Galactic, accusing it of withholding trade secrets exchanged between the two companies while developing a new carrier still in development.

Boeing on Friday asked a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, to issue a court order blocking Virgin Galactic from further use of proprietary data shared by the two companies in a 2022 agreement, according to the company. complain. Boeing accuses Virgin Galactic of “retaining, using and threatening further use of trade secrets of the company and its Virginia subsidiary, Aurora Flight Sciences,” according to the indictment.

July 2022, Virgin Galactic Announce Agreement with Aurora to design and build its next-generation mothership. The mothership is used to carry a space plane and release it at an altitude of 44,500 feet (13,500 meters) above the ground. Virgin Galactic is developing a new generation space plane called the “Delta” to transport space tourists to suborbital altitudes more frequently.

The company is also working on Upgraded version of eve, Virgin Galactic’s current mothership model. The enhanced version is designed to be faster to produce, easier to maintain and help companies scale their operations. Virgin Galactic hopes to begin flight testing of the first Delta space plane in 2025 and begin carrying commercial crews on the new vehicle in 2026. It’s unclear where the company stands on its new mothership design, but work with the Aurora has not progressed. end.

The lawsuit alleges that Virgin Galactic retained intellectual property related to the development of the mothership and refused to fulfill its contractual commitment to destroy both sets of trade secrets. “Boeing developed these trade secrets during decades of aircraft engineering, testing, manufacturing and flight,” the complaint reads. “Virgin Galactic continues to, without authorization, retain and use these trade secrets to develop new Mothership, intentionally depriving Boeing and Aurora of its proprietary property rights and risking exposure to other competitors, caused irreparable harm, and the information could not then remain secret.”

“We believe this lawsuit is factually and legally misguided, and we will vigorously defend ourselves in the appropriate forum,” a Virgin Galactic spokesperson said in an email. In response to a request for comment, Boeing The company said it did not have any further information to add.

Richard Branson’s space adventure launched commercial travel last summer, The first crew took off on June 29, 2023.Virgin Galactic recently made its seventh commercial flight roll out In January, this marked the first time VSS had all four seats available Unite The space plane is occupied by private astronauts.

Virgin Galactic hopes to make more profits from every Delta space plane it flies cost accounting Production costs are US$50 to US$60 million, and its estimated service life is 500 sorties. With six passengers on board, each paying $450,000 per ticket, revenue per flight totaled $2.7 million, while operating costs totaled approximately $400,000 per flight. This represents a potential profit of $2.3 million per suborbital trip.

Delta Air Lines could launch eve aircraft carrier, but the new one will still come in handy for Virgin Galactic’s plans to speed up suborbital travel.

correct: A previous version of this article stated that the Delta Air Lines shuttle would need a new carrier to launch. In fact, Delta can be started from Eve.

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