Virgin Galactic commercial space flights will begin this month, according to Richard Branson.
Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism company, says it will launch its first commercial voyage by the end of this month.
The company is aiming for a launch window for the Galactic 01 trip from June 27 to June 30.
Virgin Galactic shares increased by more than 40% in prolonged New York trading following the announcement to investors.
Virgin Orbit, a separate space company owned by the UK billionaire, shut down in May, months after a mission failed.
The first voyage, according to Virgin Galactic, will be a scientific research expedition, with three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy doing microgravity research.
The business said that its second commercial spaceflight will take place in early August, and that it will run monthly spaceflights from then on.
It is a significant achievement for the 19-year-old Virgin Galactic, which has had to overcome a number of mishaps and technical difficulties.
After a nearly two-year hiatus, Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane, Unity, returned to flight last month.
The craft, which carried two pilots and four passengers, flew far over the New Mexico desert to the brink of space before gliding back down.
It was advertised as the vehicle’s penultimate test flight before the company’s long-awaited commercial service launch.
Virgin Galactic has sold over 800 tickets to customers who want to fly over 80 kilometers (260,000 feet) above the Earth.
The flights are designed to provide guests with views from space at the pinnacle of the climb as well as a few minutes of weightlessness. Each individual costs $450,000 (£352,170).
While Virgin Galactic focuses on space tourism, Sir Richard’s rocket company, Virgin Orbit, has ambitions to launch satellites.
However, Virgin Orbit was forced to close in May following the failure of a mission that had been regarded as a potential watershed moment for UK space exploration.
Earlier this year, the company, which was founded to launch satellites, suspended operations in order to improve its finances.
Virgin Orbit has already sold off most of its assets, including its converted plane Cosmic Girl and the majority of its California offices.
The Virgin boss has been through a rough patch.
Sir Richard told the BBC in May that he had lost roughly £1.5 billion (£1.9 billion) during the epidemic due to lockdowns affecting his airline and leisure businesses.
“There was a time when I thought we’d lose everything,” he admitted. However, he has maintained his billionaire status, with a net worth of £2.4 billion according to the most recent Sunday Times Rich List.