Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Set to Become First Publicly Traded Spaceflight Company

Virgin Galactic is aiming for an end-of-the-year stock market debut

Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic is going public. (Land Rover MENA)
Nick Dimbleby

Wanna own a piece of space?

Well, you can’t. But you can invest in a company that’s working toward bringing civilians on space rides. Virgin Galactic, the “space tourism” brand founded by Richard Branson, is preparing to make its stock market debut before the end of the year, NPR reported.

“We know that millions of people are deeply inspired by human spaceflight, would love to become more involved and ultimately experience space for themselves,” Branson said in a statement. “By taking Virgin Galactic public, at this advanced point in its development, we can open space to more investors and in doing so, open space to thousands of new astronauts.”

If all goes well and Virgin does lift off into the market, it would be the first publicly traded spaceflight company, as both Blue Origin and Space X — owned by Branson’s fellow billionaires, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, respectively — are private.

This year alone, Virgin has blasted two manned flights into space — a huge rebound for the company after it suffered a setback in 2014 when a test flight crashed, killing the copilot on board. Another 600 people have reserved their spots on future Virgin flights, NPR reported. The total cost of their tickets? A cool $80 million in deposits that doesn’t include an additional $120 million due later on when they’re actually in space.

As much as it costs the average super rich Joe to make it to space, it costs Virgin quite a bundle to make it all happen, too.The company was going to accept a hefty investment from Saudi Arabia but ultimately decided to walk away from the deal after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to NPR. A group of investors calling themselves Social Capital Hedosophia has stepped in since. Members will own up to a combined 49 percent of Virgin’s shares.

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