LTEC and SITAEL Sign Framework to Bring Virgin Galactic Spaceflights to Italy for Science and Tourism

Friday, July 6th, Puglia, Italy: Nicola Zaccheo, Sitael CEO, Vincenzo Giorgio, Altec CEO, and George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO, signed at Sitael headquarters a framework agreement that intends to bring Virgin Galactic spaceflights to Italy.

The agreement comes after two years of business discussions, government regulatory analysis, studies on potential operations and market assessment and the signature was witnessed also by the founder of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Angel Group Mr. Vito Pertosa, the President of the Italian Space Agency Mr. Roberto Battiston, the Italian Minister Ms. Barbara Lezzi, the President of Apulia Region Mr. Michele Emiliano, the President of the Aeroporti di Puglia Mr. Tiziano Onesti and the Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Rome Todd Avery.

In September 2016 Altec – a public-private company owned by the Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space – signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Virgin Galactic. In August 2017 the U.S. Department of State approved a Technical Assistance Agreement for the development of a plan for ultimate construction of an Italian spaceport, that will provide the infrastructure for future Virgin Galactic suborbital flights. Virgin Galactic’s operational headquarters remains at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the world’s first purpose built commercial spaceport.

On May 10th 2018, following in-depth analysis of potential locations, the Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Transportations, Space Programs sector, notified to the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) the designation of the Taranto-Grottaglie Airport as the national spaceport for the commercial future home horizontally-launched spaceflights in Italy.

Sitael, member of Angel Group, is the largest privately-owned Space company in Italy with headquarters in Puglia region and is partnering with Altec and Virgin Galactic in order to define the framework that will lead the spaceflight operations from Grottaglie Spaceport.

The agreement signed today envisions a dedicated space vehicle system, built by Virgin Galactic’s sister enterprise The Spaceship Company, being positioned at the future Grottaglie Spaceport, which will integrate significant technological and industrial contribution from Sitael, ALTEC and the rest of Italian Aerospace industry, pending regulatory approvals.

“ALTEC is proud of signing this collaboration agreement that confirms the strong relationship with Virgin Galactic and the guide role assigned to ALTEC for the setting up of the Italian team having the objective to make suborbital flights at Grottaglie Spaceport a reality, says Mr. Vincenzo Giorgio, ALTEC CEO.
“Also we are honored to have SITAEL joining the existing team to leverage on the Italian long standing experience in aerospace” continues Mr. Giorgio.

The space vehicle would be utilized by customers like the Italian Space Agency as a science platform for high-frequency space research, as well as private individuals to experience space. This dual nature will drive innovation, spur industrial development, STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), as well as promote further investments and economic growth in Puglia and Italy as a whole.

This initiative will involve the Italian industrial space chain, and in particular ALTEC, SITAEL and Thales Alenia Space.