July 22, 2007

AS I SAID, SPACE IS GETTING MORE COMMERCIAL:

Northrop Grumman Corp. agreed July 5 to increase its stake in Scaled Composites – the builder of the Ansari X-Prize Cup-winning SpaceShipOne and a host of record-breaking aircraft – from 40 percent to 100 percent, Northrop Grumman spokesman Dan McClain confirmed July 20.

McClain, who declined to disclose the value of the deal, said the company expects it to close in August pending regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Scaled Composites currently is working with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture on a vehicle designated for now as SpaceShipTwo, which would carry two pilots and six paying passengers into suborbital space for a few minutes of weightlessness. The company also is building a new carrier aircraft, dubbed WhiteKnight2, that will carry SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of 15 kilometers before releasing it to soar to suborbital space.

It seems that the big money wants a piece of the small-space action. Is that good, or bad? We’ll see. More here.

UPDATE: Here’s somebody who thinks it’s bad.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts on the takeover from Rand Simberg and Jon Goff.

And this bit from Rand has to be right: “The fact that such acquisitions are now occurring is to me a sign of the transition of the old age to the new.”

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