Virgin Galactic has recently announced commercial spaceflights after nearly 20 years of research and development—possibly beginning next week.
- The company, founded by Richard Branson in 2004, announced on Thursday, June 15, that it will begin commercial space flight next week, with its first mission launching between June 27 and 30.
- The VSS Unity rocket-powered plane will be carried above the edge of the atmosphere, which will take passengers for a 90-minute flight around the Earth 60 miles above the surface.
- More than 800 tickets have already been sold, with a current price tag of $450,000.
- The company’s stock has rallied 25% since Thursday’s announcement.
Why It’s News
A successful product launch for the Virgin Group could not come soon enough. The announcement comes just two months after its sister company Virgin Orbit, which intended to launch satellites into orbit, collapsed due to a lack of funding. The company has been operating at a loss for years, spending $500 million just last year. It is now able to recoup losses through scientific research missions and private commercial flights.
The first mission, “Galactic-1,” will be a science mission with three Italian researchers conducting microgravity experiments in orbit. The second mission, “Galatic-2,” is scheduled for office and will begin the first of monthly private commercial flights. Both of these first two historic flights will be live-streamed online.
“Galactic 01, a scientific research mission, will carry three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy to conduct microgravity research. With scientific payloads on board, the spaceflight will showcase the value and power of the unique suborbital science lab that Virgin Galactic offers,” says Virgin Galactic representatives in a statement.
As we previously reported, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has made a successful business portfolio by investing in poorly run businesses and learning to run them better. It is most well known for Virgin Airlines but controls over 400 companies.