Will Virgin Galactic Overtake SpaceX in the Space Tourism Race

Are you interested in an anti-gravity experience of a lifetime in space?
space tourism race virgin galactic

Good news for all would-be space explorers, Virgin Galactic has announced 1,000 tickets for suborbital flights into space are for sale. Compared to their competitors, the prices aren’t “that” steep.

The tickets will get you a seat on one of Virgin Galactic’s space aircraft. Virgin Galactic currently has three space aircraft, including the VSS Unity, VSS imagine, VSS Unity, VSS Imagine, and the VSS Inspire (still in development). 

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Unity rollout 19Feb2016 FAITH hangar Mojave California
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo “Unity” by Ronrosano under CC BY-SA 3.0

Ticket holders will board a small space aircraft that will be lifted roughly 49,000 feet (14.9 km) by a gigantic carrier aircraft known as White Knight Two. The aircraft carrier will then drop the small spacecraft, turn its engines, and rocket you into space. You and other passengers aboard the flight will experience ‘several minutes of zero-gravity bliss’ in space.’ After this experience, the spacecraft will simply glide down like a conventional aircraft and land on a runway

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The brief trip to the edge of space will only cost you $450,000, so you will still have change from a million dollars if you treat a friend. Considering that the world’s first space tourist paid around $20 million for his flight in 2001, Virgin Galactic’s price doesn’t seem that high.

Don’t worry; you don’t need all of the money now. Just a $150,000 per person deposit will do, with the remaining $300,000 due right before stepping aboard.

Buy a ticket now before they are all gone

Hurry now if you are interested. One hundred tickets have already sold at this price, with 600 tickets reserved, news sources confirming a total of 700 tickets sold. It is even reported that Elon Musk has bought himself a ticket to check out SpaceX competitor Virgin Galactic.

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These are the cheap seats into space; they are the consolation prize for people who either couldn’t afford or were too busy to take seats offered earlier by competing company SpaceX.   

SpaceX is sending four private citizens to the International Space Station on March 30 for a ten-day stay. The cost of launching with SpaceX is reportedly $55-million per person.) However, unlike this joyride with Virgin Galactic, the four private passengers traveling with SpaceX are on an educational trip checking out new technology during their extended stay in space.

$450,000 will get you a Virgin Galactic trip that lasts 90 minutes and featuresseveral minutes of out-of-seat weightlessness and breath-taking views of Earth.”

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Virgin also includes a bit of intensive astronaut training for the price of the ticket, where you will enjoy “custom accommodations” and “world-class amenities” before your flight takes off from their base in New Mexico.

Being part of their first 1,000 customers paying $450,000 a ticket will help Virgin have “an incredibly strong foundation as we begin regular operations and scale our fleet.” says Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic.

This seems like a very reasonable deal because $450,000 is a fraction of the price of any other space tourism experience currently available, and you will be making history as one of Virgin Galactic’s first 1000 space tourists.

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Apart from SpaceX, Blue Origin is the only other company that has taken civilian astronauts into space. Still, it has only lifted 14 people to the edge of space, including the company founder Jeff Bezos and his brother, as well as Star Trek actor William Shatner.

This ambitious ticket offering makes Branson’s Virgin Galactic the mainstream leader in space tourism right now.

What else could you do for $450,000?

With $450,000, you could buy a couple of houses in any major city or two new Ferrari Romas and still have change.

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That kind of money it costs for a 90-minute space flight experience is out of the realms of borrowing for many people. The mortgage on a house that costs $450,000 would cost someone $3,107.62 per month on a 15-year loan 3% APR.

Hope for the future

If you run out of time to buy a ticket on this first offering of tickets, hopefully, there will be a price drop in ticket prices in the not-so-distant future as space tourism is likely to become more common if this goes well.

The first commercial airplane flight took off 108 years ago in 1914, cost $400 for a passenger ticket. The flight lasted just 23 Minutes.

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By the 1920s and 1930s, prices of other airplane flights reduced to as low as $5. We can hopefully expect the same trend in space travel, especially as this first tourism trip will motivate other companies in space tech to compete on price.

Feature image credit: White Knight Two and SpaceShipTwo by Jeff Foust under CC BY 2.0