Medical News Virgin Galactic to become the first publicly traded space travel firm
9 July 2019
Virgin GalacticBy New Scientist Staff and Press Association
Virgin Galactic is to become the first publicly traded company for human space travel after it announced a merger with a major investment group.
The company is owned by Richard Branson and plans to offer multi-day trips to space. It has announced a deal to combine with New York-listed Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), led by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya.
The deal is expected to give current shareholders of SCH a 49 per cent stake in the enlarged firm. Once the transaction has been completed, Virgin Galactic will become the first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company.
Money raised from the merger will be invested in turning Virgin Galactic’s technology into a commercial operation, following two test-flights of its spaceship the VSS Unity. Over 600 people have already paid 80 million dollars’ worth (£64.2 million) of deposits to the company to secure their tickets on the first spaceflights.
“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. We are at the dawn of a new space age, with huge potential to improve and sustain life on Earth,” says Branson.
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