After nearly 17 years of development and investing billions of dollars in Virgin Galactic, billionaire Richard Branson has fulfilled his dream of going into space.
Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spacecraft was launched on Sunday over New Mexico with two pilots to command, the founding billionaire and three employees of his company on board. The VSS Unity is designed to accommodate six passengers with two pilots.
Virgin Galactic currently has 600 pre-books for its future flights, which have been selling for $200,000-$250,000 per ticket. The company’s latest flight is the fourth in history to space, and the second so far this year, but it is the first flight in which the company’s vehicles carry more than one passenger on board.
This flight, which preceded that of Bezos and Elon Musk, made Branson the first billionaire among the founders of the space company, to board his own spacecraft.
Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are currently competing in the sub-orbital space tourism space, with both companies taking travelers to the edge of space to live – for a few minutes – the experience of floating in a state of near zero gravity, while orbital flights, such as those offered by SpaceX, last for several days or weeks and cost tens of millions of dollars.
Virgin Galactic shares are up 9% in pre-market trading following the completion of the long-awaited flight by Branson.