Virgin Galactic to sell space flight tickets starting at $450,000 a seat

Virgin Galactic has said it will open ticket sales on Thursday for space flights starting at $450,000 a seat, weeks after the company’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson, took a high profile flight to to the edge of space.

Branson soared 55 miles (88 km) above the New Mexico desert aboard a Virgin Galactic rocket plane on 11 July and safely returned in the vehicle’s first fully crewed test flight to space, a symbolic milestone for a venture he started 17 years ago.

“What a day … what a day, what a day, what a day,” Branson said after landing back on the tarmac. “I dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but nothing can prepare you for the view from space.”

In June, Virgin Galactic received approval from the US aviation safety regulator to fly people to space.

The company said it will have three consumer offerings: a single seat, a multi-seat package and a full-flight buyout.

Sales will initially open to the company’s significant list of “early hand-raisers”, it said.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos held his own rival rocket flight just days after Branson, marking a new era in space tourism fuelled by competition between billionaires. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has already become a key partner of the US space agency Nasa.

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