Virgin Galactic spaceflight ticket sales open, shares skyrocket
Virgin Galactic shares surged after the space tourism company said it would open commercial ticket sales, marking a significant milestone in its path toward consumer flights.
Virgin Galactic Holdings shares surged after the space tourism company said it would open commercial ticket sales, marking a significant milestone in its path toward consumer flights. Customers can make an initial deposit of $150,000. Ticket sales opened to the general public Wednesday, Virgin Galactic said in a statement. Reservations will cost a total of $450,000 for a 90-minute spaceflight, which includes “several minutes of out-of-seat weightlessness,” the company said Tuesday.
“We plan to have our first 1,000 customers on board at the start of commercial service later this year, providing an incredibly strong foundation as we begin regular operations and scale our fleet,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier said in the statement.
The announcement gives a big boost to Virgin Galactic, which has sputtered in recent months. After founder Richard Branson took a high-profile flight in July, the company said it would delay the start of commercial service to upgrade its space plane. The company also ran afoul of U.S. regulators last year, forcing it to ground flights briefly.
Established in 2004, Virgin Galactic is looking to build on the success of a high profile test mission last July, which saw Richard Branson beat Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos in their billionaire space race by a few days.
But Virgin has not flown since then. In October it announced it was entering an "enhancement period" to make safety upgrades to its fleet, and pushed back a planned test flight with the Italian Air Force to this year.
Its target to fly its first paying individual customers towards the end of 2022 puts it behind its competition in the nascent space tourism sector -- Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX -- which have already flown commercial passengers.
Blue Origin's suborbital rockets have now carried out three crewed flights with customers and guests, though the price is thought to be significantly higher.
Privately-held Blue Origin and SpaceX have not revealed their exact ticket costs, unlike publicly-traded Virgin Galactic, which is required to be more transparent.
Virgin's spaceflights launch from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
The shares advanced 14% to $9.24 at 9:45 a.m. in New York. Through Monday's close, the stock had tumbled 85% from a peak in June.
(With AFP inputs)
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