Virgin Galactic reopens ticket sales, charges $450K per seat

Washington, Aug 6 (IANS): Richard Branson's space tourism firm Virgin Galactic has reopened ticket sales for its SpaceShipTwo spaceplane, the media reported.

The price starts at $450,000 per seat, The Verge reported on Thursday.

The price more than doubled from the roughly $200,000 price point the company had years ago, before it closed sales in 2014 following a fatal 2014 accident during a test flight.

The ticket reopening and new price comes as Branson successfully flew to the edge of space aboard SpaceShipTwo in July.

"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," Virgin Galactic's chief executive Michael Colglazier said in a statement.

"As we endeavour 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," he added.

After his successful mission on July 11, with three company employees, the company is targeting late September for its first revenue-generating mission, it said in the statement. That mission, Unity 23, will carry research payloads and three members from the Italian Air Force.

Missions like the Italian Air Force's, either for seat-sized microgravity research payloads or professional astronaut training, will cost $600,000 per seat, the report cited Colglazier as saying.

There is already a backlog of some 600 ticket holders who will have to fly first. Added to this is nearly 1,000 prospective customers who have placed $1,000 deposits, a spokesperson was quoted as saying.

With the new ticket sales, Virgin will offer three ways to hitch rides on SpaceShipTwo: the single seat option, a "multi-seat couples/friends/family package," and a full-flight buyout, the report said.

"Sales will initially open to the Company's significant list of early hand-raisers, prioritising the Spacefarer Community, who, as promised, will be given first opportunity to reserve their place in space," the company said. "A follow-on priority list will be opened to customers interested in reserving future space flights."



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