Commentary

Virgin Galactic Sees Interest Rise; SpaceX Signs Deal For L.A. Facility

Given the headlines streaming across your newsfeed, is it any wonder Virgin Galactic is seeing  the demand for space travel “surge”?

“Sir Richard Branson’s firm … said it had received almost 8,000 registrations of interest for future commercial flights. That is more than double the amount it recorded at the end of September 2019,” the BBC tells us.

And that doesn’t include those who have already booked a seat.

“Since its founding in 2004, more than 600 people have reserved flights with Virgin Galactic at prices ranging from $200,000 to $250,000 per seat. Customers only pay the full ticket price once they are ready to board, but those reservations represent up to $120 million in potential revenue, the company says. Galactic stopped taking orders after it saw a huge spike in interest following its first successful test flight in December 2018. The company has executed one other test flight since then,” Jackie Wattles writes  for CNN Business.

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But today “it will begin a process called ‘One Small Step’ that will allow those online registrants who are serious about becoming passenger astronauts to register online for a firm reservation by paying a fully refundable deposit of $1,000. Confirming a spaceflight reservation will be a process called ‘One Giant Leap,’ echoing the words of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong when he became the first person to set foot on the moon in 1969,” according to an Associated Press report on Market Watch.  “The company did not say when the new set of seats would be released or the actual cost. The initial seats were sold at $250,000 apiece.”

Well, for most people.

“CEO George Whitesides told shareholders on the company’s conference call that the company’s main goal this year is to safely fly founder Sir Richard Branson to space. He declared that Virgin Galactic generating significant revenue this year is not what will make the company a long-term success, instead focusing on flying safely,” CNBC’s Michael Sheetz writes.

“It will be a powerful signal to the world that the next phase of commercial human spaceflight is beginning and it will be a transformative moment for the company and its employees, customers and stakeholders,” Whitesides said during the call transcribed by Seeking Alpha.

Back down on earth, “the company, which became publicly traded in October after closing a merger with special-purpose acquisition company Social Capital Hedosophia, released its fourth quarter and full year 2019 financials … showing, as expected, a significant loss as the company continues development and testing of SpaceShipTwo,” Jeff Foust reports  for Space News.

“Virgin Galactic reported a net loss of nearly $211 million on revenue of about $3.8 million for 2019. That revenue came from flights of research payloads on SpaceShipTwo test flights as well as unspecified engineering services,” Foust adds.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s Space X yesterday received approval from the Los Angeles City Council to use a site on Terminal Island at the port to build aerospace parts.

“SpaceX representatives told L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino’s office that the company was interested in the port site because it needed additional manufacturing capacity for its Starship spaceship and rocket booster. A SpaceX representative at last week’s harbor commissioners meeting did not mention Starship by name during his presentation of the project, but he said the company would use the port site to further its goal of creating an interplanetary society that includes Mars,” Samantha Masunaga reports for the Los Angeles Times

“The company wants to refurbish and repurpose a number of old abandoned buildings already present at Port of LA Berth 240, effectively replicating a somewhat smaller version of the Starship production facilities SpaceX is in the middle of building in South Texas,” Eric Ralph writes  for Teslarati.

“The port location provides SpaceX with immediate access to water, key to transporting its immense rocket from a production facility to launch sites in either Texas or Florida. SpaceX currently moves Falcon 9 rockets across the highway on super long trucks, but Starship and its ‘Super Heavy’ booster would be too large to transport on the road,” Reuters’ Steve Gorman and Joey Roulette report.

“SpaceX plans to send humans to Mars using the Starship, but what will they do there? Musk aims to build a city on the planet by 2050,” Mike Brown writes  for Inverse.  

“Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society who helped convince Musk to set his sights on Mars, explained in a National Review article over the weekend why it would be beneficial. Describing the nascent city as ‘a pressure cooker for invention,’ Zubrin explains how the city would work similarly to the 19th-century United States, with a freedom to innovate and an unusually technology-focused population.”

Truly back to the future.

1 comment about "Virgin Galactic Sees Interest Rise; SpaceX Signs Deal For L.A. Facility".
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  1. Len Stein from Visibility Public Relations, February 26, 2020 at 9:18 a.m.

    commercial space flight-bah- this is tourist flight and the $$ could be spent on more important, read green, initiatives

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