Abu Dhabi Buys 32% of Virgin Spaceship Firm

The Mideast investment fund with the biggest stake in Mercedes-Benz' parent is paying about $280 million to buy nearly a third of commercial space travel startup Virgin Galactic.

The investment will give Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments a 32 percent stake and rights to eventually launch Virgin Galactic from the United Arab Emirates capital.

  • Final Frontier: Crowd Sees Spaceship Launcher Fly

Aabar is the first outside investor in the spaceflight company, which has been owned fully by Richard Branson's Virgin Group. The deal values Virgin Galactic at about $875 million.

Aabar recently has emerged as one of Abu Dhabi's most active funds. It bought 9.1 percent of Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler in March, and earlier this month bought 4 percent of electric car producer Tesla Motors.