Virgin Galactic has resumed sales of seats on the suborbital spaceliner, but the cost has increased. The Virgin Group’s VSS Unity aircraft entered suborbital space for the very first time on a piloted flight test in December 2018, prompting the company to cease ticket sales. The cost of each seat was $250,000 at the time.
Virgin Galactic stated on Thursday (August 5) that ticket sales will reopen instantly, with a starting cost of $450,000 for every seat.
Unity’s fourth mission, which took place on July 11 from the Spaceport America situated in New Mexico, prompted the decision. Unity’s first fully crewed flight to the last frontier was on that test mission; the space aircraft carried Branson as well as 3 other individuals in its cabin, and also two pilots in a cockpit.
“As we work to bring the wonders of space to a wider global audience, we are thrilled to open a door to a wholly new sector and consumer encounter,” Virgin Galactic Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier stated in a statement released on Thursday, which also included the firm’s financial outcomes for the 2nd quarter of 2021.
Customers have three options: buy a single-seat, buy several seats together, or book the full flight on the 8-passenger Unity (or even other space planes which come into operation, like the currently built VSS Imagine). Seats for microgravity research as well as professional astronaut training are also available from the company. Those are in a distinct tier, costing $600,000 each, according to Colglazier, who spoke with investors.
VSS Unity takes off under wing of a VMS Eve carrier plane, which raises the spacecraft to a height of around 50,000 feet (15,000 meters). The spaceliner then breaks loose, starts its onboard rocket motor, as well as rockets into suborbital space.
Passengers are weightless for three to four minutes and glimpse Earth against blackness of the space before returning to Earth for the runway landing approximately an hour after departure. According to Virgin Galactic executives, about 600 customers have booked a flight so far. However, given the high level of interest in a July 11 flight, they expect that figure to climb significantly.
During the call on Thursday, Colglazier remarked that the mission “was a critical point for our worldwide brand.” “We sparked a cultural phenomenon. With viewers from over 65 countries, we saw remarkable worldwide participation. Millions of space fanatics all across the world were treated to a sneak peek of the voyage that Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts will embark on, and they were enthralled.”
During the call, Colglazier also provided some timeline updates. According to him, Unity’s next flight, an income-generating mission that would transport members of Italian Air Force, will now take place in late September.