Virgin Galactic becomes the first company for human spaceflight

Virgin Galactic becomes the first company for human spaceflight

The value of the merger was put at $1.5 billion.

Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 to cash in on burgeoning demand for satellite launch services and, eventually, space travel, a market long dominated by industry stalwarts such as United Launch Alliance - a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.

The deal was earlier reported by the Wall Street Journal.

"Today, we become more formidable still, by announcing that Virgin Galactic. has taken a huge step towards becoming the very first publicly listed human spaceflight company", Branson said in a statement.

Sir Richard said: "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".

"Great progress in our test flight programme means that we are on track for our lovely spaceship to begin commercial service", Branson said in today's statement.

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"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 wonderful journey".

Mr Branson says: "This achievement is being made possible by joining forces with a New York Stock Exchange-listed investment vehicle, which has many underlying investors, but led by two visionary business leaders, Chamath Palihapitiya and Adam Bain".

"Together we will make our dreams reality".

The move will give Branson's venture the much-needed capital in the race to space against rivals such as Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX. The entrepreneur suspended talks on a US$1 billion injection from Saudi Arabia last October following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Virgin Galactic has launched multiple test flights of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital space planes, and in December 2018, the company finally made it to the edge of space, sending the VSS Unity 51.3 miles up above Earth with two human pilots.

Virgin Galactic said it has reservations from some 600 people in 60 countries, with $80 million in deposits and $120 million in potential revenue.