Boeing vs. Virgin Galactic: Failed partnership brings to court

Boeing has filed a lawsuit against Virgin Galactic due to violation of trade secrets. Boeing demands a ban on the use of data obtained after the conclusion of a cooperation agreement in 2022, which is violated by Virgin Galactic. Boeing accuses Richard Branson’s company of using trade secrets that also belonged to a subsidiary of Aurora Flight Sciences.

Boeing accuses Virgin Galactic of unfair partnership. Photo: Boeing

In July 2022, Virgin Galactic entered into an agreement with Aurora to develop a new carrier aircraft. A huge carrier aircraft would have to lift the spaceplane to a height of 13.6 km for further acceleration in flight to the border with space. The company has also been working on a new Delta spaceplane for tourist flights. The first flight tests of the Delta space plane are scheduled for 2025, and commercial flights for 2026.

The lawsuit alleges that Virgin Galactic retained intellectual property related to the development of the carrier aircraft by refusing to fulfill a contractual promise to destroy two sets of trade secrets.

Virgin Galactic said Aurora Flight Sciences would build two new “base spacecraft” for its next-generation suborbital spaceplanes. Source: Virgin Galactic.

“Boeing developed these trade secrets over decades of engineering, testing, building, and flying aircraft. Virgin Galactic’s ongoing, unauthorized retention and use of these trade secrets to develop a new Mothership deliberately deprives Boeing and Aurora of their exclusive property rights and imposes irreparable harm by risking exposure to other competitors, after which the information cannot retain its secret status,” the complaint says.

A representative of Virgin Galactic assured that the company would defend itself and did not agree with Boeing’s statement.

Richard Branson’s space company has already launched commercial flights. Virgin Galactic plans to increase its profits from tourist flights after the commissioning of the new Delta spaceplane. Each flight can bring about $2.3 million in profit. Delta will launch from the Eve carrier. But Virgin Galactic plans to increase the number of suborbital flights, so a new and more powerful mothership would be useful.

Earlier, we reported on how the Virgin Galactic carrier aircraft was damaged during flight.

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