Virgin Galactic Hit with Lawsuit Over Unpaid Invoices, Intellectual Property

The suit claims invoices for work performed totaling $26.4 million have not been paid, despite multiple attempts to resolve the dispute.

Virgin Galactic is in a legal battle with Boeing over intellectual property rights and alleged unpaid bills for work on a replacement for the “Eve” launch aircraft. [Courtesy: Virgin Galactic]

Boeing, on behalf of its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, filed a lawsuit against Virgin Galactic for alleged unpaid bills and misappropriation of proprietary trade secrets.

According to the March 21 filing, as reported by, Mojave, California-based Virgin Galactic contracted with Aurora in July 2022 to design and build two new “mothership” aircraft designed to launch Virgin’s suborbital space vehicles. The first was to be delivered in 2025, designed to replace Virgin Galactic’s VMS Eve launch platform.

Virginia-based Aurora has a history of innovative concept projects, including a 2002 demonstration aircraft designed to study atmospheric aspects of flying on Mars. It reached an altitude of 100,000 feet to simulate the low density of the atmosphere on the red planet. Another project in 2008 involved developing an uncrewed aircraft with a 1,000-pound payload designed to remain aloft in the stratosphere for five years under solar power. Boeing acquired Aurora in 2017.

The Boeing lawsuit claims that work on the Virgin Galactic project stopped after completion of the second “task order” in May 2023. According to language in the filing, “Aurora concluded that it would not be possible for Virgin Galactic to produce the new Mothership Virgin Galactic wanted, on the budget available to it, on the timeline Virgin Galactic hoped to meet.” The suit claims invoices for work performed totaling $26.4 million have not been paid, despite multiple attempts to resolve the dispute.

Boeing and Aurora also claim that Virgin Galactic refused to destroy proprietary technical specifications that model aircraft stability and control performance; and also proprietary data on composite construction. The “trade secrets” were inadvertently provided to Virgin Galactic as work on the mothership design progressed, according to the suit.

Virgin Galactic did not immediately return an AVweb phone request for comment, but told SpaceNews, “We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend ourselves in the appropriate forum.”

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on AVweb.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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