Virgin Galactic to become first space-tourism company to go public

Jeannie Matthews
July 10, 2019

Social Capital, led by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, has raised $800m of cash to take a 49pc share.

The deal has an enterprise value of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars (£1.2 billion) and is expected to give current shareholders of SCH a 49% stake in the enlarged firm.

Virgin Galactic and Social Capital Hedosophia did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters outside regular business hours.

It said the final tests flights would be completed from New Mexico ahead of the launch of full commercial service for passengers and research payload.

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

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic will merge with a New York-listed company to become the world's first publicly-traded space tourism venture, the British billionaire's group announced on July 9, 2019.

"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 unbelievable journey".

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"As we look back on the decade of Apollo with wonder and gratitude, I believe we can do so with the excitement that comes from knowing we are at the dawn of a new space age".

The race in becoming the first public company involved in space flight is officially ended, and Virgin Galactic won it.

Branson has already invested more than US$1 billion in the project since 2004, while a similar proposed Saudi capital injection was suspended past year following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Virgin Galactic's last test flight was in February when its spacecraft reached an altitude of more than 55 miles following a launch from California's Mojave desert.

Bezos has also spent years working on its space tourism plans, and Blue Origin is expected to compete directly with Virgin Galactic in that business.

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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