British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is offering space flights once again. The company announced local time on Thursday that it will sell tickets for $450,000 (over €380,000). Virgin Galactic previously sold about 600 tickets, costing between $200,000 and $250,000 (170,000 and 210,000 euros).
The company had previously announced that the new tickets being sold would be more expensive. Interested parties can purchase a single spot, multiple points, or all locations in the spacecraft. The spaceship is built to carry up to six passengers in addition to the pilots. However, at the moment, only test flights with four passengers are carried out.
Branson flew into space in his own rocket in July and returned safely to Earth. After this successful first mission, the 71-year-old businessman wants to start “space tourism”. Another test flight will follow in September with fee-paying customers on board, after which Virgin Galactic has planned at least one test flight. The intention is for the first commercial flight to depart “at the end of the third quarter of 2022”, that is, in the spring or summer of next year.
Up to 400 spaceflights per year
“We are pleased to announce the reopening of ticket sales today,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement. The company hopes to perform up to 400 spaceflights annually. “We strive to bring the wonders of space travel to a wider audience, and open the door to a whole new consumer experience.”
The test flight on which Branson made history took off last month from a base in the US state of New Mexico. A special transport plane brought the spaceship to an altitude of 15 kilometers. From there, the spacecraft, led by two pilots, took off under its own power to more than 80 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Branson and three of his closest companions were transported to the edge of the atmosphere and were weightless for a few minutes. They saw the curvature of the Earth and the boundary between the planet and the infinity of the universe.
Soon after Branson’s flight, he was followed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, the former CEO of Amazon and founder of Blue Origin Aviation. And Tesla CEO Elon Musk also owns the space company SpaceX. This company already flies for NASA and launches commercial rockets that carry satellites into space, among other things. Musk has yet to announce any specific plans for a space flight.
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