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Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit said Boeing Co. will invest in the satellite-launching startup’s planned $3.2 billion SPAC listing later this year, an investment that comes as the plane maker’s own space program faces hurdles.

Virgin Orbit said it would list on the Nasdaq stock market by merging with NextGen Acquisition Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company run by former Goldman Sachs banker George Mattson and Greg Summe, a former senior executive at the Carlyle Group.

Boeing’s planned investment, which The Wall Street Journal first reported earlier Monday, comes through a SPAC-related fundraising round called a private investment in public equity, or PIPE. That fundraising has garnered a total of $100 million in commitments, Virgin Orbit said. The company didn’t say how much of that will come from Boeing. Boeing didn’t immediately return requests for comment Monday morning.

Private-equity fund AE Industrial Partners LP will also invest in the PIPE, Virgin said. AE Industrial Partners didn’t immediately return a request for comment early Monday.

Virgin Orbit’s plans to seek a SPAC-related listing were first reported earlier this year by the Journal.

Boeing’s planned investment coincides with its struggles with its own space business. The launch of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which the company had hoped would allow it to eventually send manned NASA missions to the International Space Station, was delayed earlier this month because of faulty valves.

Virgin Orbit’s planned listing comes as investors increasingly bet on the falling costs of accessing space for business, tourism and scientific research. Mr. Branson’s Virgin Group owns 80% of Virgin Orbit, with Mubadala Investment Co., the United Arab Emirates sovereign-wealth fund, owning the rest.

“It’s another milestone for empowering all of those working today to build space technology that will positively change the world," Mr. Branson said.

Earlier this year, Mr. Branson beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos into space in a high-profile trip that took him on a Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. spacecraft more than 50 miles above Earth. While Virgin Galactic is focused on space tourism, Virgin Orbit’s business is launching satellites.

Virgin Orbit has completed two successful satellite launches this year, lifting the company into a small group of small-satellite launch providers able to offer flight-proven hardware. The Southern California-based company uses a launch method unique among its competitors. A converted jumbo jet releases a rocket, which then fires up and carries its payload of small satellites into orbit.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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