Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket plane VSS Unity, carrying Richard Branson and crew, begins its ascent to the edge of space above Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, U.S. July 11, 2021 in a still image from video.
Virgin Galactic | via Reuters
Virgin Galactic delivered second-quarter results after the market closed on Thursday and announced that it will reopen ticket sales, with pricing beginning at $450,000 per seat.
“We have a purposeful range of product offerings in order to satisfy the different ways people will want to share this experience of private astronaut flights,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said during the company’s second quarter conference call.
The company also announced its next spaceflight test is targeting late September from Spaceport America in New Mexico, carrying members of the Italian Air Force.
Shares of Virgin Galactic rose 5% in after-hours trading from its close of $31.53.
Virgin Galactic reported an adjusted EBITDA loss of $56 million in the second quarter, just above the loss of $55.9 million in the prior quarter. It generated $571,000 of revenue in the second quarter, coming from the scientific research experiments onboard its May spaceflight test.
The company flew two spaceflight tests during the quarter, with the first marking its debut from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The second flight carried founder Richard Branson and three other mission specialists to test the vehicle’s cabin.
The company’s leadership previously announced that it would fly two more tests of spacecraft VSS Unity, with the first carrying another four “mission specialists” and the second flying members of the Italian Air Force. Branson had announced after his spaceflight that former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides would fly on the company’s next spaceflight test, as CNBC reported last month. But that plan appears to have changed with the Italian spaceflight, designated as the Unity 23 flight, now scheduled next.
Virgin Galactic will then pause spaceflight operations for a previously announced “enhancement period,” before then launching its Unity 24 spaceflight test. Then, with the Unity 25 flight, Virgin Galactic expects to begin commercial services with its first non-development flight.
Colglazier said during the shareholder call that the enhancement period, which will focus on refurbishing and reinforcing its jet-powered carrier aircraft VMS Eve, will run from after Unity 23 in September until mid-2022. That pushes back the company’s beginning of commercial service, as Virgin Galactic was targeting early 2022 for its first private customer spaceflight.
A Virgin Galactic spokesperson told CNBC that the Unity 25 mission is targeting late third quarter 2022.
Virgin Galactic’s passenger rocket plane VSS Unity, carrying billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and his crew, lands after reaching the edge of space above Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, U.S., July 11, 2021.
Joe Skipper | Reuters
The space tourism company is conducting the spaceflight tests as the final step in developing its vehicle. The company has about 600 reservations for tickets on future flights, with those tickets sold largely between $200,000 and $250,000 each.
Virgin Galactic will have three different sales offerings, starting at $450,000 a seat, for space tourists: A single seat purchase, packaged seats for couples, friends or family, or opportunities to book entire flights. The company noted that sales will initially prioritize Virgin Galactic’s “significant list of early hand-raisers,” with a “follow-on priority list” to be opened for new customers.
Its spacecraft VSS Unity was designed to carry six passengers — in addition to two pilots — but the vehicle is now outfitted to carry four, with Virgin Galactic confirming that its spaceflight with Branson represented a “fully crewed” launch.
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