Virgin Galactic readies spaceflight ticket sales

Virgin Galactic shares soared over 25% during Tuesday's trading session on announcement

Shares of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic have soared more than 27% during Tuesday's trading session as the company is preparing to open ticket sales and initial reservations to the public starting Wednesday for its upcoming commercial spaceflights

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SPCE VIRGIN GALACTIC HOLDINGS INC. 6.68 +0.21 +3.25%

"At Virgin Galactic, we believe that space is transformational," Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement. "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."

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Virgin Galactic's spaceflights, which will launch from Spaceport America in New Mexico, will cost $450,000 per person with an initial deposit of $150,000. About $25,000 of that deposit will be nonrefundable. 

During spaceflight, astronauts will experience a 90-minute journey, including a signature air launch and Mach-3 boost to space. Guests will enjoy several minutes of out-of-seat weightlessness and breathtaking views of Earth from the VSS Unity spaceplane's 17 windows. The reservation includes membership in the company's Future Astronauts community, which offers access to special experiences, events, trips and space-readiness activities prior to the flight. 

In August, the company opened initial reservations to its Spacefarer community, a group of early hand raisers who were given priority to schedule reservations after placing a $1,000 deposit in 2020. Prior to increasing the price of tickets to $450,000, the company charged between $200,000 and $250,000 apiece. In November, Virgin Galactic announced that it had reached a total of 700 reservations after selling 100 commercial spaceflight seats at the $450,000 price point.

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The launch of ticket sales to the public comes after Branson successfully flew to the edge of space and back as part of Virgin Galactic's Unity 22 test flight in July. It also coincides with the unveiling of the company's new logo, which features a purple outline of its spacecraft. 

The rocket plane carrying Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and other crew members takes off from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Sunday, July 11, 2021.

The rocket plane carrying Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and other crew members takes off from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Sunday, July 11, 2021.  (AP Photo/Andres Leighton / AP Newsroom)

The company previously announced it would delay its commercial spaceflights to the fourth quarter of 2022 to allow VSS Unity and the VMS Eve mothership to undergo enhancements. The enhancements, subject to testing and verification, are expected to reduce Unity's turnaround flight time from seven to eight weeks to four to five weeks and allow VMS Eve to fly up to 100 flights between major maintenance inspections. 

Colglazier said on the company's second quarter earnings call in August that the enhancement period would likely conclude sometime in mid-2022. Following the enhancement period, Virgin Galactic said it would conduct its Unity 23, Unity 24 and Unity 25 missions, the latter of which represents the start of commercial service with private astronauts. 

In addition to Virgin Galactic, other companies looking to help make space tourism a reality include Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin