Virgin Galactic quickly moved to squash the rumors, telling Bloomberg News, TradeArabia, and another Bahrain newspaper, the Gulf Daily News, that the company had no plans to establish a spaceport in Bahrain, or anywhere else in the Persian Gulf. “We have looked at Sweden and the possibility of opening one in Scotland,” Virgin Galactic spokeswoman Jackie McQuillan told the Gulf Daily News, “But as for opening one in Bahrain, or even in Dubai, that is not true at all.”
The Daily News article leans on its own unnamed sources to say that even if Branson elected to establish a spaceport at some point in the region, it most likely would be in Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE, citing Branson’s visit to Dubai earlier this year, where the subject of a spaceport came up. Ras Al Khaimah, another emirate within the UAE, already has plans to develop a spaceport in cooperation with Space Adventures.
While the Tribune article might be short on facts (among other things, it calls Rocketplane Kistler’s George French a “billionaire” and Canadian Arrow’s Geoff Sheerin a “tycoon”), it does make a point that a spaceport in Bahrain, or elsewhere in the region, would be “more viable and easier to access for this part of the world.” Not everyone will want to travel to New Mexico or California or Oklahoma just to fly into space, and many people will want to see their own region of the world from space, rather than the potentially unfamiliar geography of the American Southwest. There may not be any plans in the works now for a Virgin Galactic spaceport in Bahrain or the Persian Gulf region, but if the company is successful it may only be a matter of time before one is developed.