Virgin Galactic to stop Unity sub-orbital flights
November 10, 2023
By Chris Forrester
Space tourism company Virgin Galactic says it will reduce the number of sub-orbital tourism flights and stop them completely by mid-2024. The company will instead focus on building its next-generation Delta rocket vehicle.
Virgin’s Unity space plane last flew on November 2nd and would now fly every quarter year starting with its next flight (Galactic 06) in January. Galaxy flight 07 would follow early in the company’s Q2.
Michael Colglazier, Virgin Galactic’s CEO, said that its recent flights had seen the company learn a lot about its space flight operations.
“Unity’s flight objectives are to demonstrate our system, showcase our astronaut experience and provide learnings for our Delta program,” Colglazier told analysts. “The total costs to support Unity’s flights surpass the relatively modest monthly revenues. The big move we’re making here is pivoting the resources that have been put into the Unity flights and redirecting them over to get the Delta ships done with the cash we have on hand.”
He added that pricing would rise, and the price per seat could be sold at up to $1 million compared to the current fee of $450,000.
Virgin Galactic recently announced that it would be laying off 185 jobs, about 18 percent of its workforce.
The company will be moving manufacturing operations from its current operational HQ at Spaceport America in New Mexico to a new factory near Phoenix, Arizona. This new facility will produce the new Delta vehicles. These new Delta vehicles will be able to fly twice a week and carry six paying passengers. These improvements will put the company into a positive cashflow position in 2026.
The company has enough funding to complete development of the first two Delta spaceplanes vehicles and will begin commercial flights in 2026. Virgin Galactic ended the quarter-year with $1.1 billion of cash and equivalents on hand.
Virgin Galactic said it had $1.7 million in revenue in Q3 and forecasts $3 million in revenue in the Q4. The company had a net loss of $105 million in Q3.