Boeing Co.
has committed to invest in

Richard Branson’s
Virgin Orbit as part of the satellite-launching startup’s planned $3.2 billion SPAC listing later this year, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Virgin Orbit plans to list on the Nasdaq stock market by merging with NextGen Acquisition Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company run by former Goldman Sachs banker

George Mattson,
according to this person.

Boeing’s planned investment, not previously reported, is intended to be made through a SPAC-related fundraising round called a private investment in public equity, or PIPE. That fundraising has garnered a total of $100 million in commitments, this person said. It isn’t clear how much of that Boeing has committed or whether Boeing will be investing directly or through a partnership with another fund. Boeing didn’t immediately return requests for comment made early Monday.

Private-equity fund AE Industrial Partners LP will also invest in this PIPE, according to the person familiar with the matter. Boeing said earlier this month that its venture-capital fund would partner with AE Industrial Partners in investments. AE Industrial Partners also didn’t immediately return a request for comment early Monday.

The details of the listing could be announced as soon as Monday, this person said.

Virgin Orbit’s plans to list via a SPAC were first reported by The Wall Street Journal earlier this year.

Boeing’s planned investment follows its struggles with its own space business. The launch of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which the company had hoped would allow it to eventually send manned NASA missions to the International Space Station, was delayed earlier this month because of faulty valves.

Virgin Orbit’s planned listing comes as investors increasingly bet on the falling costs of accessing space for business, tourism and scientific research. Mr. Branson’s Virgin Group owns 80% of Virgin Orbit, with Mubadala Investment Co., the United Arab Emirates sovereign-wealth fund, owning the rest.

Earlier this year, Mr. Branson beat fellow billionaire
Jeff Bezos

into space in a high-profile trip that took him on a
Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.
spacecraft more than 50 miles above Earth. While Virgin Galactic is focused on space tourism, Virgin Orbit’s business is launching satellites.

Virgin Orbit has completed two successful satellite launches this year, lifting the company into a small group of small-satellite launch providers able to offer flight-proven hardware. The Southern California-based company uses a launch method unique among its competitors. A converted jumbo jet releases a rocket, which then fires up and carries its payload of small satellites into orbit.

Florida-based AE Industrial Partners specializes in aerospace and defense. The fund will also help manage Boeing’s venture-capital fund HorizonX Ventures, the two companies said this month. HorizonX has invested in over 40 startups in the past four years. It is unclear if Boeing has committed to invest in Virgin directly, through HorizonX or through the partnership with AE Industrial Partners.

Write to Alistair MacDonald at