Virgin Galactic seeks space tourism boost with market launch

Virgin Galactic seeks space tourism boost with market launch

Mr Palihapitiya will become chairman of the board and has pledged to invest an additional 100 million U.S. dollars (£80.3 million) as part of the transaction. More than US$1 billion has been raised since the company was founded in 2004, initially from Branson, with an Abu Dhabi investment company taking a stake in 2010.

Virgin Galactic's fleet built by The Spaceship Company.

Virgin Galactic will merge with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), a company formed by venture capital firms Social Capital and Hedosophia. However, this did not come to fruition as Virgin Galactic's chief executive Richard Branson walked away from the deal following the assassination of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Kashoggi by the kingdom.

Richard Branson says the company has taken a "huge step towards becoming the very first publicly listed human spaceflight company" - along with its sister manufacturing organisation, The Spaceship Company. "They share our dreams and together we will make them reality".

Mr Branson says: "This achievement is being made possible by joining forces with a New York Stock Exchange-listed investment vehicle, which has many underlying investors, but led by two visionary business leaders, Chamath Palihapitiya and Adam Bain".

Citing "great progress in our test flight programme", he says this means the remaining hurdles to commercial space travel "are steadily being cleared". It'll fund the business as it races Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX to operate commercially and make a profit.

Branson is thought to have already invested more than $1 billion in the project since 2004, while a similar proposed Saudi investment was suspended past year following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A spacecraft was launched by Virgin Galactic, successfully flown into suborbital space and back to Earth in December 2018.

Branson said in February he'd planned to fly into space himself aboard one of his company's vehicles to mark this year's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch in July, but as we're in July, this remains to be seen whether they will meet the set date.

Virgin Galactic said it has reservations from some 600 people in 60 countries, with $80 million in deposits and $120 million in potential revenue.

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