Demand for space tourism has doubled, says Virgin Galactic

Helen Coffey
PA

Virgin Galactic has said it plans to release more tickets for its first space tourism flights amid growing demand.

Sir Richard Branson’s brand said it has received nearly 8,000 registrations of interest, more than double the number it had received by the end of September 2019, on top of the 600 tickets already sold for its inaugural flight.

Those who have registered will be eligible to start a process called “One Small Step”, requiring a refundable $1,000 deposit to join the waiting list for the next batch of tickets to be released.

The process of confirming a spaceflight reservation is called “One Giant Leap”.

Celebrities including Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio are among the first people to have purchased tickets; Sir Richard has also said he will be on the first flight.

The first batch of tickets cost $250,000 a piece. It’s not yet known what the price of the next round of tickets will be, or the date they’ll be released.

“One Small Step allows us to help qualify and build confidence in our direct sales pipeline, as well as to ensure that those who are most keen to make reservations, are able to do so at the earliest opportunity,” said Stephen Attenborough, Virgin Galactic’s commercial director.

“We have been greatly encouraged by the ongoing and increasing demand seen from around the world for personal spaceflight.”

Virgin Galactic, which is the only publicly-listed space tourism group, completed its first successful sub-orbital test flight in 2018.

Virgin Galactic’s goal is for the VSS Unity to reach 264,000ft, a height at which passengers would experience weightlessness while still seeing the curvature of the earth.

The company has finally started preparing to start operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico after years of developing and testing its commercial spacecraft at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Sir Richard is up against Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin in the space tourism race; all three are vying to be the first to achieve commercial space travel.

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