Virgin hikes space flight fee

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Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is delaying the start of its space tourism venture until Q3/2022.

Virgin Galactic, following on from the success of its flight with Sir Richard aboard on July 11th, had originally said it would start carrying fee-paying tourists early in 2022. There is a planned test-flight in September.

However, Virgin Galactic is also hiking its price for a seat aboard a conventional sub-orbital flight to an eye-watering $450,000.  Tickets had originally been offered at $250,000 for a flight aboard SpaceShipTwo.

Virgin now says that people who had signed up for its ‘One Small Step’ offer, with deposits of $1,000, will have priority booking – although at $450,000 per seat.

Michael Colglazier, CEO at Virgin Galactic, said in an earnings call. “If someone wants to purchase a full flight, and buy out all the seats on the flight, there will be a modest premium that goes against that.”

The company reported that “reservations” of “Future Astronauts” totalled approximately 600 as at June 30th.

Virgin Galactic explained its new pricing structure: “For the private astronaut market, the Company will have three consumer offerings:

  1. a single seat;
  2. a multi-seat couples / friends / family package; and
  3. full-flight buy out. Pricing for these offers will begin at $450,000 per seat. Sales will initially open to the Company’s significant list of early hand-raisers, prioritizing the Spacefarer Community, who, as promised, will be given first opportunity to reserve their place in space. A follow-on priority list will be opened to customers interested in reserving future spaceflights.”

The company said that maintenance and inspection of the ‘mother ship’ (Unity/Eve) and SpaceShipTwo rocket portion of the combination will take longer than originally anticipated.

Virgin Galactic report revenues of a mere $571,000 (€485,000) and a net loss of $94 million during the Q2/2021 to June 30th.


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