Richard Branson's space company, Virgin Galactic, plans to ramp up tourist flights in 2023.
It aims to send customers to space three times per month starting in the middle of that year.
Virgin Galactic has accumulated 700 reservations for future spaceflights.
Virgin Galactic launched its founder, Richard Branson, to the edge of space in July aboard one of its rocket-powered planes. But it's not stopping there.
The company intends to make a business out of flying paying tourists to suborbital space, and it wants to ramp up flights starting in 2023. That year, Virgin Galactic aims to start sending customers to space three times per month, CEO, Michael Colglazier said on a conference call Monday.
Virgin's current vehicle, VSS Unity, will fly once per month starting in late 2022. Its next-generation spacecraft, the shiny VSS Imagine, will begin test flights in early 2023 and start accepting amateur astronauts in the second half of that year. It'll complete two flights per month, or one about every two weeks.
The space firm on Monday also said that it has presold 700 tickets to date. Around 100 people have reserved tickets at Virgin Galactic's new $450,000 price point since ticket sales reopened in August. Those customers placed $1,000 deposits in 2020 to reserve the ability to buy tickets when they became available. In early 2022, Virgin plans to open up sales more widely to people who have inquired about flights.
Virgin said in October that it had to postpone the start of its commercial flights to late 2022 to work on its spacecraft and carrier plane, the VMS Eve. That aircraft carries Virgin's spacecraft and releases them at an altitude where they can fire up their rocket boosters and ascend into space. Once in space, Virgin's customers can experience a few minutes of weightlessness and gaze at Earth through large windows.
Shares of Virgin Galactic were up more than 6% in trading Tuesday.