Virgin Galactic set to become world’s first public space tourism company

Virgin Galactic will become the world’s first publicly traded commercial space tourism company, merging with Social Capital Hedosophia to create a new company called Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.

Virgin Galactic (VG) is an aerospace entity looking to send travellers to space via the first commercial vehicle for spaceflight. VG will offer customers multi-day experiences, which include out-of-seat zero gravity and views of Earth.

Sir Richard Branson‘s company will list its shares in the second half of this year as part of its merger deal with public investment firm Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH).

The current shareholders of SCH are expected to own up to 49% of the company, which will have an anticipated initial enterprise value of $1.5 billion.

Offering out-of-seat zero gravity and views from space

Founder and CEO of SCH, Chamath Palihapitiya, will invest an additional $100 million in Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc at $10 per share.

Palihapitiya will become Chairman of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc, while George T Whitesides will remain as CEO of the company.

Branson said Virgin Galactic is “on track for our beautiful spaceship to begin commercial service” following progress in the test flight programme.

He added: “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.

Virgin Galactic on track to start commercial service

“We are at the dawn of a new space age, with huge potential to improve and sustain life on Earth. I am delighted that SCH has decided to become such an important part of our amazing journey. They share our dreams and together we will make them reality.”

Virgin Galactic has already sold 600 tickets, making more than $80 million in deposits. In addition, more than $1 billion has been invested in VG since 2004.

Image: Virgin Galactic