LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Space tourism company Virgin Galactic states that following the reopening of ticket sales to customers in August for an increased price of $450,000, the spaceline has sold about 100 tickets. In the company’s third-quarter financial results posted on Nov. 8, Virgin Galactic reports about 700 of the 1,000 reservations to launch private astronauts into space have been made.
The company previously reported in August that roughly 600 future “astronauts” signed up for the future flights as tickets were previously priced at $250,000. Virgin Galactic experts the start of the private astronaut commercial service to be on track for their fourth-quarter of 2022.
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“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,” said CEO of Virgin Galactic Michael Colglazier in the news release. “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. It’s a pivotal time for the Company as we transition from a prototyping space innovator to the global, scaled, commercial operation we are becoming.”
The company announced its progress after it successfully completed a fully crewed spaceflight, VSS Unity 22, from Spaceport America outside of Truth or Consequences in July. Achieving a speed of Mach 3, Unity 22 reached an altitude of just over 55 miles before landing.
The flight made New Mexico the third state to launch humans into space and also put the company’s founder, Richard Branson, ahead of Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos in the billionaire space race. Bezos and three crewmates launched from west Texas nine days later.
The July spaceflight of Unity 22 was a worldwide spectacle that Virgin Galactic says brought in tens of thousands of requests for information for future spaceflights. The relaunch of ticket sales in August was reopened to a group of “early hand-raisers” who had previously been placed on a waiting list for ticket sales.
Ticket sales for Virgin Galactic’s flights were suspended for almost seven years after the company’s first spaceship crashed during a test flight over Mojave, California. The VSS Enterprise broke apart during a test in October 2014, killing one pilot and seriously injuring a co-pilot.
Following a delay due to “a potential manufacturing defect” in a flight control actuation system component, Virgin Galactic’s next test flight of Unity 23 with the Italian Air Force has been rescheduled until the completion of the company’s enhancement program. The program was designed to improve vehicle performance and flight-rate capability. Commercial flights are expected to follow in the fourth quarter of 2022.