Virgin Galactic said on August 5 that ticket sales would resume at much higher prices but that it would not begin flying current suborbital space tourism clients until the second part of next year. In its quarterly financial results, the corporation said that it will resume ticket sales, which had been halted for several years. Those who paid a $1,000 deposit to join the company’s “One Small Step” program will be the first to purchase tickets on future suborbital spaceflights.
The news came as no surprise, as business officials had previously stated that ticket sales would restart once the company’s creator, Sir Richard Branson, soared to space aboard SpaceShipTwo. Branson was aboard SpaceShipTwo’s most recent trip, which took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on July 11.
The price, however, was novel: it began at $450,000, a significant increase above the $250,000 the business had been charging before ceasing ticket sales. Individual seats, several seats on the same trip, and full flights will be available. Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier claimed, “$450,000 is the starting price in an earnings call.” “If one wants to buy a whole flight and buy out all of the seats on the trip, there will be a small premium to pay.”
According to Colglazier, ticket sales will be available for a limited period as the airline tries to balance the demand for seats with the supply of flights. He merely stated that the corporation intended to sell a “significant” number of seats, but he did not provide a more precise figure. Virgin Galactic has moved back the commencement date for both existing and new customers. It had previously stated that it planned to launch commercial service at the beginning of 2022 once its present VSS Unity, SpaceShipTwo vehicle, and its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane, VMS Eve, completed a fall maintenance period.
The repair period will begin after the subsequent SpaceShipTwo flight, which is slated for late September under the deal with the Italian Air Force. That maintenance phase, however, will continue several months longer than anticipated. “At the moment, Eve and Unity are flying at low rates, and the frequency and amount of inspection and maintenance work that is undertaken after each trip is throttling that cadence,” Colglazier added. “A primary priority has been to find a way to enable reasonable flight speed variations from our existing ships.”
Virgin Galactic will make upgrades to VSS Unity during that time to reduce turnaround periods from 7 to 8 weeks to four to five weeks. WhiteKnightTwo will be upgraded to increase the ship’s durability, he stated. The plane can only fly around 10 times before needing substantial inspections and maintenance; the next repair will extend to up to 100 trips.