Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic plans to go public

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic plans to go public

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic plans to go public

British billionaire Richard Branson said Tuesday his spaceflight company will soon become the first ever listed on a public trading exchange by merging with a USA investment firm.

However, unlike SpaceX, Virgin Galactic is mainly focused on suborbital launches in order to conduct experiments and taking tourists up to space.

It comes after Social Capital Hedosophia has announced it will merge with Virgin Galactic.

During a second flight in February, the spaceship, VSS Unity, carried pilots as well as a crewmember who tested the passenger experience.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that SCH planned an investment of US$800 million.

Branson's space-tourism venture plans to go public as part of a deal with a special goal acquisition company (SPAC) created by Social Capital LP Chief Executive Officer Chamath Palihapitiya, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency.

Sir Richard said: "By embarking on this new chapter, at this advanced point in Virgin Galactic's development, we can open space to more investors and in doing so, open space to thousands of new astronauts".

"Having got to know Chamath and Adam over the past few months, I have no doubt that we will be better together and am delighted they are becoming such important partners on our fantastic journey".

Branson's company is racing against Blue Origin, the space business of Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos, to bring tourists into space. The deal will let Branson fund Virgin Galactic spaceships until they are able to become profitable.

The cost is expected to come down "dramatically" over the next decade as space travel becomes more accessible to common people, Branson told CNBC on Tuesday.

"Together we will make our dreams reality". The entrepreneur suspended talks on a US$1 billion injection from Saudi Arabia last October following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

It has also been granted a commercial space launch licence from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. - and a New Mexico spaceport has received its spaceport licence.

Virgin Galactic says it already has customer reservations from more than 600 people in 60 countries, representing approximately US$80m (€71.3m) in total collected deposits and US$120m (€107m) of potential revenue.

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