If you spent the month of July gawking at the adventures of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos in space, then we have some good news for you. Having received the necessary approvals, Virgin Galactic, Branson's space tourism company is now accepting seat bookings for its future missions. Like any tourism offering, you can even get some discounts if you plan to take the trip as a group, the company said while announcing its quarterly earnings.
Just a few weeks ago, Richard Branson and a few of the top brass at Virgin Galactic were part of a crewed mission to outer space and experienced weightlessness for a few minutes, aboard VSS Unity. Calling, it an "experience of a lifetime", Branson recounted how it took the company he founded 17 years of work to get to this point.
The wait for the rest won't be that long though. Earlier in June, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) had given Virgin Galactic the necessary approvals to fly people to space. Following the successful flight, the company now plans to begin commercial flights, as early as September, it said in its quarterly earnings report.
The company has priced a single seat at $450,000. This is quite a steep rise from the initial 600 flight tickets that the company had sold between $200,000 and $250,000 before the sales were stopped. Now, as the company reopens the booking lines, "the experience of a lifetime" is going to cost more. But if you bring along a few more enthusiasts, like friends and family on a trip, or just book an entire flight, there might be some discounts on offer.
But, booking a seat now does not give you a head start. The company is likely to prioritize the 600-odd bookings, that remained steady as of June end, after which a "follow-on priority list" will be made, according to the company.
Also, while the company might call enthusiasts, who book their seats, Future Astronauts, the FAA does not agree on this. It is not calling Branson or Bezos astronauts either. So, if you were planning a trip, just to be called an astronaut, you need to work harder and go much farther.