Virgin Galactic has revealed that so far 100 people have each handed over $450,000 for a flight on its rocket-powered suborbital spaceplane.
That brings the total number of reservations for its upcoming space tourism service to 700, with the other 600 having paid $250,000 before the seat price was raised to $450,000 in the summer.
Virgin Galactic revealed details of the ticket sales in its latest earnings report released on Monday, November 9.
The company is aiming to launch a space tourism service toward the end of 2022 that will send passengers around 55 miles above Earth for a few moments of weightlessness, as well as awesome views of Earth, before returning to terra firma.
It had hoped to launch the service in mid-2022 but last month it said it needed more time to inspect its VSS Unity suborbital spaceplane, and also VMS Eve, which flies Unity on the first stage of its journey, to confirm the vehicles’ structural integrity.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson recently demonstrated the company’s space tourism experience when he flew aboard VSS Unity, taking off and landing at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
“We are entering our fleet enhancement period with a clear roadmap for increasing the durability, reliability, and predictability of our vehicles in preparation for commercial service next year,” Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said in the company’s earnings report.
Colglazier added: “Demand for space travel is strong, and we’ve been selling seats ahead of the pace we had planned. This demonstrates the incredible market for our product and appreciation for the value of the unique experience we offer.”
Virgin Galactic is competing with Blue Origin — the company founded by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos — in the space tourism sector.
Blue Origin’s first crewed flight sent Bezos and three others to the edge of space aboard a suborbital New Shepard rocket on July 20, nine days after Branson’s flight with Virgin Galactic.
In October, Blue Origin conducted its second crewed flight, blasting Star Trek legend William Shatner and three others skyward for the 10-minute trip of a lifetime.
Blue Origin hasn’t yet revealed when it will officially launch its commercial space tourism service, nor has it said how much a ticket aboard its capsule will cost.
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