Boeing Demands Virgin Galactic Destroy Data On Failed Space Tourism Partnership

28th Mar 2024
Boeing Demands Virgin Galactic Destroy Data On Failed Space Tourism Partnership

Boeing filed a request with a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia on 22nd March, seeking a court order to prevent Virgin Galactic from continuing to utilize proprietary data exchanged under a 2022 agreement between the two companies, as outlined in the complaint. 

Boeing’s complaint alleges that Virgin Galactic has unlawfully retained, utilized, and is threatening further use of trade secrets owned by Boeing and its subsidiary, Aurora Flight Sciences, based in Virginia.

Virgin Galactic’s Collaboration with Aurora

In July 2022, Virgin Galactic revealed a partnership with Aurora to develop and produce its upcoming generation of motherships. These motherships serve the purpose of transporting a spaceplane and releasing it at an altitude of 44,500 feet (13,500 meters) above ground level.

Virgin Galactic is currently working on the development of a next-generation spaceplane named Delta, designed to transport space tourists to suborbital altitudes more frequently.

The company is also investing efforts into refining Eve, Virgin Galactic’s existing mothership model. This upgraded rendition aims to streamline production processes and simplify maintenance tasks, ultimately supporting the company’s efforts to scale up its operation. 

Virgin Galactic aims to commence flight testing of the inaugural Delta spaceplane in 2025, with plans to initiate commercial crew launches using the new vehicle by 2026. The status of the company’s new mothership design remains uncertain following the unsuccessful collaboration with Aurora in that regard.

Trade Secret Lawsuit: Boeing vs. Virgin Galactic

According to the lawsuit, Virgin Galactic allegedly withheld intellectual property associated with the mothership’s development, failing to fulfil a contractual commitment to dispose of two sets of trade secrets.

The complaint read that “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.”

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