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Branson’s Virgin Galactic doubles price of space tickets

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UK: After flying its founder Richard Branson to space, Virgin Galactic is restarting ticket sales beginning at $450,000, the company announced Thursday.

The new price is about double the $200,000 to $250,000 paid by around 600 people who previously booked seats on Virgin’s spaceship, as the company looks to cash in on the success of last month’s fully-crewed test flight.

Its next flight will come in September and involve members of the Italian Air Force, a paying customer.

“We are excited to announce the reopening of sales effective today,” said CEO Michael Colglazier in a statement, with first dibs going to people on a waiting list.

“As we endeavour to bring the wonder of space to a broad global population, we are delighted to open the door to an entirely new industry and consumer experience.”

In July, Branson beat Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos to space in a battle between the billionaires.

There will be one further test after the September mission, but after that their calendar for launches has not been revealed.

The offerings for customers will include a single seat; multi-seats for couples, friends or family; and a full-flight buyout.

The spaceplane was originally designed to carry six crew, but last month’s flight, which was described as “fully-crewed,” had just four — suggesting this is the current number.

The company has predicted it will eventually run up to 400 flights per year, and two seats are up for grabs in a prize draw, with registrations open until September 1.

Virgin’s space experience involves an air-launched spaceplane, VSS Unity, that takes off attached to the belly of a massive carrier plane from a runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

After gaining altitude, the spaceplane detaches from its mothership and ignites its rocket engine, ascending to beyond 50 miles (80 kilometers) above sea level.

Passengers unbuckle and experience a few minutes of weightlessness before the plane glides back to the runway to land.


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