If you have to ask what a Virgin Galactic flight costs, you probably can’t afford it

August 6, 2021, 1:31 PM UTC

If the billionaire space race inspired you to dream big about experiencing zero gravity—Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made it look pretty cool—you may have to first sell off your kid’s college fund before packing any bags. 

Booking a seat on the next available VSS Unity flight operated by the Richard Branson–founded Virgin Galactic will cost nearly a half-million bucks—or roughly equivalent to the company’s first-half revenue. 

And for those with pockets deep enough to afford that kind of fare, there’s still a queue. Roughly 1,000 enthusiasts have already secured a spot thanks to a $1,000 fully refundable deposit placed through Virgin Galactic’s “One Small Step” program, which has since been closed.

“We will soon open a priority list for future space travelers who wish to be next in line,” chief executive Michael Colglazier told investors, without specifying further.

The publicly traded company, which listed via a special purpose acquisition company in 2019, announced the $450,000 price tag alongside first-half results that saw its net losses halve to $223 million on sales of just $571,000. 

Despite the considerable red ink, shares in the company—ticker symbol SPCE—have performed better than other blank-check peers. The stock closed Thursday 2% higher at $31.53, nearly three times above its IPO price. It’s well off its all-time high of $62.80, however.

For its most recent flight last month, which saw Virgin Galactic founder Branson beat Bezos into space by a matter of days, more than 19 million viewers tuned in to watch, according to the company. 

The VSS Unity and its full crew of six people achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from its mothership, the VMS Eve, hitting an altitude of 53.5 miles before landing again at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“The Unity 22 flight was an inflection point for our global brand; we created a cultural moment,” Colglazier said on Thursday. “The extraordinary global response to the flight makes us even more confident in the significant untapped market of space enthusiasts.” 

Two further tests are scheduled before the first commercial private astronaut flight, which should take place late in the third quarter, according to the CEO. 

Virgin Galactic rival Blue Origins has not revealed any prices, but it auctioned off a seat to join Bezos and his brother Mark for $28 million.

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