26 February 2020 News

Demand soars for space flights with Virgin Galactic

 Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity flying over Spaceport America. Image taken on 13 February, 2020. Image: Virgin Galactic via AP, File
Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity flying over Spaceport America. Image taken on 13 February, 2020. Image: Virgin Galactic via AP, File

Virgin Galactic has announced it will release more tickets for flights into space after receiving nearly 8,000 online reservations of interest since its first successful test flight into space 14 months ago. This figure is more than double the amount it recorded at the end of September 2019.

Sir Richard Branson's firm said that in preparation for the re-opening of spaceflight sales, it is introducing the One Small Step initiative, which allows interested participants to pay a fully refundable registration fee of US$1,000 to secure a seat.

“This can be applied to your future spaceflight deposit and will put you front of line for new seats when they become available,” says the companies website.

Although Virgin Galactic has not specified when those flights will be available, when they make the announcement that time, customers will be contacted personally “with a firm Giant Leap offer.”

The space firm has already had more than 600 firm reservations from customers around the world, including celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber. Branson also plans to ride aboard the plane during test flights and is likely to be on the first official trip.

The initial seats for the inaugural flight were sold at $250,000 apiece, but customers only pay the full ticket price once they are ready to board.

Commenting on the new initiative, Stephen Attenborough, the company's commercial director, said that the increasing demand for personal spaceflight was encouraging.

"One Small Step allows us to help qualify and build confidence in our direct sales pipeline, as well as to ensure that those who are most keen to make reservations, are able to do so at the earliest opportunity," he said.

However, the news comes as Virgin Galactic's latest company results show a net loss of $73m (£55.6m) for the fourth quarter of last year.

Presently, Virgin Galactic are the only publicly traded human spaceflight company and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in October last year following the company’s merger with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH).

Following its earnings report, Virgin Galactic shares fell more than 5 percent during after hours trading, though shares are up nearly 200 percent so far in 2020.

Those who are serious about flying to the edge of space should register their interest now, say Virgin Galactic, as Small Step registrations are limited. Click here for the simple online application process; https://www.virgingalactic.com/smallstep/

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