Virgin Galactic is selling tickets to space again, now for $450,000 per seat

Virgin Galactic has began selling seats on its suborbital spaceliner once more — however the worth has gone up.

The firm, a part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, halted ticket gross sales in December 2018, shortly after its VSS Unity automobile reached suborbital space for the primary time on a piloted take a look at flight. Back then, the value was $250,000 per seat. 

On Thursday (Aug. 5), Virgin Galactic introduced that it is reopening ticket gross sales, successfully instantly, with a beginning worth of $450,000 per seat. 

In images: Virgin Galactic’s 1st fully crewed spaceflight with Richard Branson

The transfer comes within the wake of Unity’s fourth spaceflight, which occurred July 11 from Spaceport America in New Mexico. That take a look at mission was Unity’s first absolutely crewed journey to the ultimate frontier; the space plane carried Branson and three different folks in its cabin, in addition to two pilots within the cockpit.

“As we endeavor to bring the wonder of space to a broad global population, we are delighted to open the door to an entirely new industry and consumer experience,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement Thursday that additionally introduced the corporate’s monetary outcomes for the second quarter of 2021. 

Virgin Galactic is providing prospects three choices: buy a single seat, purchase a number of collectively or e-book a whole flight on the eight-passenger Unity (or different space planes that come into operation, such because the just lately constructed VSS Imagine). The firm additionally sells seats for microgravity analysis {and professional} astronaut coaching. Those are in a distinct tier, going for $600,000 apiece, Colglazier mentioned throughout a name with buyers on Thursday afternoon.

VSS Unity lifts off beneath the wing of a service plane known as VMS Eve, which hauls the space plane to an altitude of about 50,000 toes (15,000 meters). At that time, the spaceliner drops free, ignites its onboard rocket motor and blasts itself to suborbital space

Passengers expertise three to 4 minutes of weightlessness and get to see Earth towards the blackness of space earlier than coming again down to Earth for a runway touchdown, about an hour after takeoff.

About 600 folks have booked a experience to date, Virgin Galactic representatives mentioned. But they count on that quantity to rise significantly now, given the extraordinary curiosity within the July 11 flight.

That mission “was an inflection point for our global brand,” Colglazier mentioned throughout Thursday’s name. “We created a cultural moment. We saw incredible global engagement, with viewership coming from over 65 countries. Millions of space enthusiasts around the planet shared a glimpse into the journey the Virgin Galactic future astronauts can expect, and they loved it.”

Colglazier additionally shared some timeline updates through the name. Unity’s subsequent flight, a revenue-generating mission that will carry members of the Italian Air Force, is now anticipated to launch in late September, he mentioned.

After that flight is full, VMS Eve will fly to the Mojave, California, headquarters of The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing subsidiary. There, Eve will obtain a sequence of “enhancements,” which embrace the strengthening of varied structural parts. 

This work is designed to enable Eve to fly 100 instances between main inspections as opposed to the present 10 — an enormous leap that can increase Virgin Galactic’s flight price considerably down the highway, Colglazier mentioned. (The firm ultimately plans to fly extraordinarily continuously, with fleets of space planes and service planes stationed at spaceports around the globe.)

Eve is anticipated again at Spaceport America across the center of subsequent year. Virgin Galactic will fly yet another absolutely crewed take a look at flight shortly thereafter, then shift to full industrial operations within the third quarter of 2022, if all goes in accordance to plan.

Virgin Galactic has one chief competitor within the suborbital space tourism trade — Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which flew its first crewed spaceflight on July 20. (Bezos himself was on that flight.) Blue Origin has not but introduced how a lot a seat will coast aboard its New Shepard automobile, a reusable rocket-capsule combo.

Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e-book concerning the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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