Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is reopening ticket sales for its SpaceShipTwo space plane, the space travel company said in its second quarter earnings release on Thursday. The price: $ 450,000, an expected increase from the roughly $ 200,000 price the company had years ago, before closing sales.
The reopening of tickets follows Branson’s successful flight to the edge of space aboard SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic’s flagship space tourism vehicle that can carry four passengers about 53 miles high for a few minutes of weightlessness. This mission, called Unity 22, was a key milestone in testing the rocket plane before Virgin began flying individual customers next year.
“Building on the surge in consumer interest following Unity Flight 22, we are delighted to announce the reopening of sales effective today, starting with our Spacefarer community,” said the CEO of Virgin Galactic, Michael Colglazier, in a statement. “As we strive to bring the wonders of space to a large global population, we are delighted to open the door to a whole new industrial and consumer experience. “
The company is targeting September for its first revenue-generating mission, she said in the press release. This mission, Unity 23, will carry search payloads and three members of the Italian Air Force. Virgin said it already has a backlog of some 600 ticket holders. Ticket sales for private customers had been closed since a fatal accident in 2014 during a test flight.