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In brief: Virgin Galactic has revealed that 100 people have bought tickets for its suborbital spaceplane since the price jumped to $450,000 in the summer. That takes the total number of passenger reservations for its space tourism trips to 700—300 fewer than its target of 1,000 sales.
The reservation figures were listed in Virgin Galactic’s third-quarter earnings report (via The Verge) released yesterday. It shows that 600 people paid $250,000 for a ticket to the edge of space before they went back on sale with the price increase during the summer.
Another 100 people have purchased tickets at that $450,000 price, which is more than the company expected in the timeframe. “We’re selling tickets ahead of the pace we planned,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier. “The pricing strategy we announced last quarter has been well received.”
The tickets were offered to anyone who had paid a $1,000 deposit; they will be available more generally to those who inquired about Virgin space flights early next year.
A month before the company restarted selling tickets, Virgin founder Richard Branson beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos in the race to leave Earth by taking part in the Unity 22 mission that evaluated the Virgin Galactic Astronaut Experience. It prompted Bezos’ firm to throw some shade by reminding people that Virgin’s craft isn’t actually reaching space.
From the beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name. For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km up at the internationally recognized Kármán line. pic.twitter.com/QRoufBIrUJ— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 9, 2021
Branson's trip wasn't totally smooth: it deviated from its flight path while returning to Earth, leading to the FAA temporarily grounding the company.
Virgin Galactic plans to launch passengers 55 miles off Earth near the end of 2022. Flights were initially scheduled for the middle of next year, but Virgin said it needs more time for a planned vehicle enhancement and modification program involving the VSS Unity spaceship and VMS Eve carrier mothership.
Virgin notes that it generated $2.6 million in revenue during Q3, though total losses reached $48 million. That’s still better than the $94 million loss it suffered in Q2.