Virgin Galactic Prices Spaceflight Tickets at $450,000 Per Seat

Virgin Galactic has opened ticket sales on Thursday for a seat on its space flights, with prices starting at a hefty $450,000 a seat.

The space venture made the pricing announcement just weeks after Sir Richard Branson won the billionaire spacerace, when he beat Amazon’s Jeff Bezos into outer space – a race widely expected to kick-start the space tourism industry.

The price of the seat came when Virgin Galactic reported its second quarter financial results.

Progress so far

For the period ending 30 June, Virgin Galactic posted a net loss of $94m, up from a net loss of $72m in the second quarter in 2020. This increased loss was blamed on rising costs.

Virgin Galactic also reported a tiny revenue of just $571,000, barely enough to cover one seat on a future flight.

“In the second quarter, we made meaningful progress towards commencing commercial service in 2022. We successfully completed two spaceflights from New Mexico – the latest carrying a full crew of mission specialists in the cabin and garnering an extraordinary global media and consumer response,” said Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic.

“In addition, we received FAA approval to expand our existing launch license, marking the first time the FAA has licensed a Spaceline to fly customers to space,” he added.

“Leveraging the surge in consumer interest following the Unity 22 flight, we are excited to announce the reopening of sales effective today, beginning with our Spacefarer community,” said Colglazier.

“As we endeavour 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.”

Seat pricing

Virgin Galactic said that for the private astronaut market, it will have three consumer offerings:

  • a single seat;
  • a multi-seat couples / friends / family package;
  • a full-flight buy out.

“Pricing for these offers will begin at $450,000 per seat,” it said. “Sales will initially open to the company’s significant list of early hand-raisers, prioritising the Spacefarer Community, who, as promised, will be given first opportunity to reserve their place in space.

It said that a follow-on priority list will be opened to customers interested in reserving future spaceflights.

Virgin Galactic also confirmed that its next rocket-powered spaceflight, Unity 23, will takeoff in late-September from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

This flight will be a revenue-generating flight with the Italian Air Force.

Two hour flight

Sir Richard’s spaceflight took over two hours to complete, compared to the 11 minutes for Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, although both experience roughly the same amount of time weightlessness.

The Virgin Galactic rocketship launches from a massive, twin-fuselaged mothership, which carries the rocketship and its passengers 50,000 feet in the air.

The rocketship is a winged plane with a single rocket motor and it detaches before firing its main rocket, pushing passengers back into their seats as they experience 3Gs of force from the extreme acceleration.

It then rockets up to its maximum height of 53 miles above the Earth, which is high enough to reach NASA’s classification of ‘astronaut’.

Passengers can watch the blue sky fade into the star-speckled darkness of outer space. At the top of the flight path the vehicle is suspended in weightlessness for four minutes, allowing the passengers to enjoy panoramic views of the Earth and space, as the rocketship rotates.

It then deploys its feathering system, which curls the plane’s wings upward, which allows the spaceship to glide back down to a runway landing in New Mexico.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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