décembre 8, 2021

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Virgin Galactic sells 100 extra space tickets

Virgin Galactic has sold about 100 tickets since its founder Richard Branson flew into space over the summer, and commercial service is expected to begin by the end of 2022.

The current fare is $450,000 per seat, well above the $200,000 to $250,000 fare paid by about 600 customers from 2005 to 2014.

A spokesman for the company told AFP that the company has so far sold 700 tickets.

« We are entering our fleet enhancement period with a clear roadmap to increase the durability, reliability and predictability of our vehicles in preparation for commercial service next year, » CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement.

« Demand for space travel is strong, and we are selling seats ahead of the pace we planned. »

Founded in 2004, Virgin Galactic is seeking to build on the success of a high-profile test mission in July, which saw Branson beat Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos in the billionaire space race.

Founder Richard Branson

But since then, the company, which flies from Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert, has faced setbacks.

It was grounded briefly by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after an investigative report in the New Yorker found that its spaceship came under close call and fell under its designated airspace during the July flight.

Virgin Galactic has been criticized by the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to communicate the aberration.

In October, Virgin said it was putting off several important months with members of the Italian Air Force, after discovering strength-material issues in its vehicles.

It is currently in the process of improving its vehicles.

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Unlike Blue Origin and SpaceX, the main competitors in the emerging space tourism sector, Virgin Galactic deploys a massive carrier aircraft that takes off horizontally, gains high altitude, shoots down a rocket-powered space plane and then takes off into space.

As a public company, Virgin Galactic must also be more transparent about its finances.

The cost of tickets on Blue Origin’s New Shepard semi-orbital rocket, which is capable of jumping approximately ten minutes into space and back, is unknown, but it will likely be much higher.

An online auction of the first seat sold for $28 million, but the winner postponed his flight.

The seats aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which launches atop a massive Falcon 9 rocket and is also contracted by NASA to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, is likely to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

In September, Elon Musk welcomed four private tourists on a three-day orbital mission sponsored by online payments billionaire Jared Isaacman.