‘Third place’ Branson delays paid Virgin Galactic space trips to end of next year

While the likes of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have already begun jetting paying customers off to the stars, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic faces yet another setback.

The space tourism company has lost around 20% of its value overnight after delaying its first paid flights to the end of 2022. This is after previously pushing back trips to the middle of next year.

Virgin Galactic says the delay is due to planned refurbishments which will “enhance” its spacecraft and improve its performance. Its stock prices have dropped by around 20% overnight as a result..

Although Virgin finally took Branson and five others to the edge of space in July, it is still yet to launch a paid flight, for which tickets sell at an eye-watering $450,000.

Virgin Galactic saw 20 percent of its value wiped out after delaying flights until the end of next year

Richard Branson originally wanted Virgin Galactic to launch its first spaceflight all the way back in 2010, which was delayed for years after a major crash of a test plane in 2014.

The original SpaceShipTwo, a.k.a. the VSS Enterprise, broke apart and exploded during a test flight in 2014, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury.

FILE PHOTO: Virgin Galactic rocket plane, the WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane, with SpaceShipTwo passenger craft takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, U.S., February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Gene Blevins/File Photo
Virgin Galactic travels to space on two planes

Virgin Galactic’s space travel relies on not one, but two aircraft. Astronauts sit in the ‘SpaceShipTwo’ shuttle, which is carried to the edge of the atmosphere by a cargo plane, ‘White Knight Two’.

Virgin Galactic seems to be lagging behind in the billionaire private space race.

As it delays flights, the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin are already taking paying customers to the cosmos.

Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity, carrying billionaire Richard Branson and crew, starts its ascent to the edge of space above Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, U.S. July 11, 2021 in a still image from video. Virgin Galactic/Handout via REUTERS. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Branson travelled to the edge of space on Virgin Galactic earlier this year

This week, Blue Origin flew Star Trek icon William Shatner to the stratosphere for around 11 minutes.

Meanwhile, SpaceX took four civilians on a three-day jaunt last month past the International Space Station and the Hubble telescope.

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