Bell Textron Inc. and Qarbon Aerospace to manufacture major subassemblies for the next generation spaceships
Design work to begin immediately with vehicle production targeted to commence in 2023
Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (the “Company” or “Virgin Galactic”), an aerospace and space travel company, today announced that it has reached agreement with Bell Textron Inc. ("Bell") and Qarbon Aerospace to manufacture key subassemblies for the Company’s new Delta class spaceships. The production-model vehicle is designed to fly weekly with six passengers per ship. Production is slated to begin in 2023.
Bell, a subsidiary of Textron Inc. with more than 85 years of manufacturing experience in the aviation industry, will supply the unique feathering system and flight control surfaces. Qarbon Aerospace, known for its expertise in constructing large, complex composite parts for aerospace and aviation, will produce the fuselage and wing. The companies were selected following a competitive RFP process based on their ability to meet Virgin Galactic’s unique design and fabrication requirements.
Virgin Galactic will continue to be responsible for the overall system architecture, design authority for all components, and the final assembly, integration, checkout, and acceptance testing of the vehicles.
“The Delta class spaceships are an evolution of our distinctive flight system, designed for improved manufacturability, maintenance and flight rate capability,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier. “Bell and Qarbon Aerospace are established partners who bring know-how, ideas and resources that will enable us to produce up to six new Delta Class ships per year. Together with Aurora Flight Sciences, who is producing our next gen motherships, we now have the primary suppliers in place to propel the production of our spaceline fleet at scale.”
Bell Vice President of Prototyping and Testing, Glenn Isbell said, “We are honored Virgin Galactic has chosen Bell to support flight control technology and aircraft manufacturing for its Delta Class spaceship program. Bell’s 85-year legacy consists of revolutionary advancements in vertical lift and space technology, and we’re thrilled to make this exciting return to space vehicle development to help bring Virgin Galactic’s vision to life.”
Qarbon Aerospace CEO, Pete Wick said, “We are truly honored that Virgin Galactic has selected Qarbon Aerospace to play such a critical role in this cutting-edge technology platform taking passenger spaceflight to the next level. This is the beginning of what I know is going to be a long and extremely successful partnership.”
As previously announced, the spaceships will be assembled at Virgin Galactic’s new facility in Arizona. The first Delta class spaceships are expected to commence revenue-generating payload flights in late 2025, progressing to private astronaut flights in 2026.
“After a highly competitive and methodical selection process, we are thrilled to be partnering with Bell and Qarbon Aerospace,” added Swami Iyer, Virgin Galactic President, Aerospace Systems. "The Delta spaceship manufacturing process will benefit from our investment in digital twin technology, which enables seamless integration, real-time collaboration, strong governance, and increased production efficiency and reliability.”
About Virgin Galactic Holdings
Virgin Galactic is an aerospace and space travel company, pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers with its advanced air and space vehicles. It is developing a spaceflight system designed to connect the world to the wonder and awe created by space travel and to offer customers a transformative experience. You can find more information at https://www.virgingalactic.com/
Thinking above and beyond is what we do. For more than 85 years, we’ve been reimagining the experience of flight – and where it can take us. We are pioneers. We were the first to break the sound barrier and to certify a commercial helicopter. We were a part of NASA’s first lunar mission and brought advanced tiltrotor systems to market. Today, we’re defining the future of advanced air mobility. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas – as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., – we have strategic locations around the globe. And with nearly one quarter of our workforce having served, helping our military achieve their missions is a passion of ours. Above all, our breakthrough innovations deliver exceptional experiences to our customers. Efficiently. Reliably. And always, with safety at the forefront.
Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Pipistrel, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, and Textron Systems. For more information, visit: www.textron.com.
About Qarbon Aerospace
Qarbon Aerospace, headquartered in Red Oak, Texas, is a leading provider of large, complex composite and metallic structural components and assemblies such as fuselages, wings, flight control surfaces, and engine nacelles and components. Qarbon Aerospace operates nearly two million square feet of factory space across three facilities located in Red Oak, Texas, Milledgeville, Georgia, and Rayong, Thailand. Qarbon Aerospace has vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities from component fabrication through large-scale assembly as well as world-leading proprietary thermoplastics technologies. Qarbon Aerospace has longstanding relationships with blue-chip OEM customers and a diversified product portfolio across a variety of successful commercial, defense, and business jet platforms. Qarbon Aerospace has the capabilities and resources to solve the market’s toughest challenges with Quality Assured. You can find more information at www.QarbonAerospace.com.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities laws with respect to Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (the "Company"), including statements regarding the Company’s spaceflight systems, markets and expected flight schedule. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by words such as “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to the factors, risks and uncertainties included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021, as such factors may be updated from time to time in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), accessible on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and the Investor Relations section of our website at www.virgingalactic.com. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause the Company’s actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and, except as required by law, the Company assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.