Virgin Galactic is riding the publicity wave from its recent spaceflight with billionaire Richard Branson to draw in more paying customers to launch in its SpaceShipTwo spaceplane.
The company has yet to fly a paying customer but it most recently completed its fourth successful spaceflight launching its billionaire founder, Branson, with four other Virgin Galactic employees to the edge of space. The July 11 flight marked the first time all four seats were occupied on board.
The first 600 people to buy tickets to fly with Virgin paid about $250,000 but after its recent spaceflight, the company has reopened ticket sales again for rides into space starting at $450,000 a seat.
According to a news release, Virgin Galactic will offer several options for commercial space flyers, including a single-seat, multiple seats for couples and friends or offer the option to buy all four seats.
Sales will initially open to people who have already reached out with interest and then a priority list will be opened to customers for future spaceflights.
The company made the announcement with its second quarter of 2021 financial results on Thursday. As of June 30, Virgin Galactic has $552 million cash on hand.
“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. 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,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement. “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. As we endeavor 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.”
According to the report, its next spaceflight, Unity 23, is targeted for late-September. Virgin Galactic said it will conduct two more test flights with crew before welcoming paying customers to fly.
Virgin Galactic is also now hosting a sweepstakes for two seats on SpaceShipTwo. To enter participants can donate to Space for Humanity, a nonprofit working to send citizen astronauts of diverse racial, economic and disciplinary backgrounds to space. The deadline to enter is Aug. 31.