Virgin Galactic plans to introduce 2 new spacecraft that are easier to maintain and turn around for daily flights

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Virgin Galactic plans to introduce 2 new spacecraft that are easier to maintain and turn around for daily flights
Virgin Galactic
  • Virgin Galactic is offering new shares to raise $500 million to develop its space fleet and spaceports.
  • The CEO told the Financial Times the company faces hurdles following the successful flight with founder Richard Branson.
  • There will be two more tests this year before commercial passenger flights begin in 2022.

Virgin Galactic is looking to raise $500 million in order to fund the development of its space fleet and expansion of its spaceports around the world, according to filings with the US Securities Exchange Commission.

The announcement came one day after founder Richard Branson successfully flew with a crew of company employees to the edge of space in the VSS Unity space plane.

But several short-term challenges remain before the space tourism company can fully ramp up to its target of offering 400 flights per year from every spaceport, the CEO said in an interview with the Financial Times.

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"I think for a while this is going to be a very supply-constrained business," said Michael Colglazier, who became CEO last year.

The company plans to complete two more test flights this year before it begins chipping away at the 600-person waiting list of commercial passenger ticket holders in 2022.

The sold tickets are worth a combined $80 million, according to filings, and another 1,000 people have placed $1,000 deposits toward the future purchase of tickets when sales reopen.

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With room for just four passengers on the StarShipTwo space plane, Colglazier said Virgin Galactic plans to introduce two new craft that are easier to maintain and turnaround to support daily flights.

"I'm expecting high single-digit numbers to low double-digit numbers of spaceships [at each site] in order to kind of reach numbers like that," he said.

Colglazier also told the FT that the decision to move Branson's flight schedule forward - ahead of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin flight next week - was motivated not by rivalry but by Branson's role in testing the customer experience.

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Read the full Financial Times story here.

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