While many aviation geeks are excited about the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A350 (with great fares to boot), there is something from the Virgin Group that is even bigger and more radical.
While Richard Branson is not involved in the day-to-day of Virgin Atlantic whatsoever, he is however, actively working on his space tourism company Virgin Galactic.Virgin Galactic’s mission is to “democratize space” (keep in mind space flights will be at least $200,000 to start).
Our mission, to be the Spaceline for Earth, means we focus on using space for good while delivering an unparalleled customer experience.We recognize that improving access to space is a fundamentally challenging ambition.
We will achieve it only in a spirit of collaboration and with a recognition that we must continually learn and can always improve.
Virgin Galactic To Go Public
Richard Branson — who by the way has a net worth of $4 billion — announced that his company will go public on the New York Stock Exchange as part of a deal with new investors that will take a 49% stake.
Virgin Galactic will merge with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), a company that is comprised of two venture capital firms. Everyone who leads Virgin Galactic will remain but the merger with SCH will supposedly accelerate the pace of growth and eventually help bring the prices of space flights down. (Sorry, but it’s still expected to be very much an activity for the ultra-wealthy.)
The Future Of Virgin Galactic
Galactic hasn’t flown yet for paying customers but there have been two successful demonstration flights on board their spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, 50 miles above Earth.
The plane that will eventually take customers in early 2020 is designed to carry two pilots and up to six passengers. Branson will be among the first passengers aboard a SpaceShipTwo flight, probably later this year.
There are about 600 people that have agreed to take the short, high-speed journey aboard a Virgin Galactic space plane, with most agreeing to pay $200,000 to $250,000 per seat. All of those deposits have totaled about $80 million in revenue.
The infusion of cash for Branson will help him get even closer to finally launching Virgin Galactic to the public. Galactic has been plagued with delays, allowing Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s co-founder and the richest man in the world) to also enter the space tourism market with his company Blue Origin.
While both companies’ experiences are out of reach for most of us common folk, we can still relish in the fact that our points and miles can take us 35,000 feet (not quite 50 miles) up into the sky. That’s a miracle in and of itself.
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