Here’s one for people with far, far too much cash. After steadily building hype for well over a decade, Virgin Galactic is finally offering the general public the chance to go to space. Tickets for ‘the world’s first commercial spaceline’ are set to go on sale to the general public today (February 16).
When we say ‘general public’, we really mean ‘the ridiculously wealthy’. Tickets start at a whopping $450,000 (£332,000), which is, by pretty much any measure, an astronomical (if you’ll pardon the pun) sum. The flights last 90 minutes, which works out at $5,000 every minute – or $83 a second.
And before you ask: yes, it is a return ticket. Taking off from Virgin’s Spaceport America in New Mexico, the space flight is, of course, a round trip. Passengers will be able to take in mind-blowing views of Earth through the ship’s 17 huge windows and experience at least a few minutes of unseated zero gravity.
But Virgin’s Galacticos don’t just get the flight. That enormous price tag also gets you access to a community of ‘Future Astronauts’, which basically means invitations to other space-themed events and trips. The price also includes pre-flight training and accommodation, and the trips are set to begin at the end of this year.
So, why would you even want to go to space? Well, that’s not really for us to say. On the one hand, space travel doesn’t just have a significant financial costs but also likely has devastating environmental consequences. On the other, you get some cool views and experience Zero G. Luckily that’s a dilemma very few of us will ever need to face.
In any case, it feels significant that the industry is now properly opening up to the (exceptionally wealthy) public. Virgin Galactic has been running test flights into what is technically outer space (i.e. 50 miles up) since 2018, with Richard Branson himself having done the trip last year. It should also be noted that this is actually the second time Virgin Galactic has opened up sales to the public. It did so in 2014, too, but paused applications due to a deadly crash.
If you’re filthy rich and fancy booking a spot on a Virgin Galactic flight, you’ll need $150,000 (£111,000) for a deposit. Find out more on the official Virgin Galactic website.