Richard Branson’s space tourism company is boldly going where no space tourism company has gone before: The New York Stock Exchange.
Yesterday, Branson announced that Virgin Galactic plans to become the first human spaceflight company to go public.
According to The Washington Post, Virgin Galactic is said to be valued at around $1.5B and is expected to go public this year.
Houston, we have IPO plans
Virgin Galactic has raised more than $1B since it was founded in 2004. But most of it has been funded by Branson’s personal fortune — mainly because he didn’t think it was going to take this long to get tourists into space.
But, shockingly, space flight is hard… and the company has been hit with various technical setbacks (like when a spaceship came apart during a test flight in 2014, killing a co-pilot).
It’s also crazy expensive
Even a British billionaire is having trouble keeping the company afloat on his own dime.
The purpose of going public is so Virgin Galactic can use the capital it raises to keep the thrusters firing until it brings in its own cash from commercial flights.
Now, it’s only a matter of time (and money)
Taking a company of this size and stature public is a risky move, especially for a space tourism company that seems light-years away from ever flying any tourists.
But Branson and his esteemed colleagues know it’s only a matter of time until the cash starts pouring in.
600 people in 60 countries have already slapped down more than $80m in deposits to hold a spot on one of Branson’s space trains ($250k per ticket). And that’s not to mention the competition.
The fast-growing industry as a whole — most notably SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin — could be worth as much as $2.7T by 2045.