Virgin Galactic offers priority queue for space seats

US$1,000 deposit for 'One Small Step' initiative sorting out the serious from the curious

Wannabe space tourists who missed their opportunity to secure one of the first 600-odd seats on Sir Richard Branson’s commercial space program can now lay down a deposit to nab a seat.

This week, Virgin Galactic invited “aspiring astronauts” to move forward their initial registration with the publicly listed company to a “front of line” future reservation for US$1,000: effectively sorting the serious from the curious.

Seats sold in the first wave were around US$250,000. However, the actual cost of the next tranche of seats (which will be more expensive) has yet to be announced. But at quarter of a million US dollars, the deposit equates to around 0.4% of the total price tag.

Having paused new bookings in December 2018 following its inaugural spaceflight, Virgin Galactic has now re-opened spaceflight sales, with deposits being handled online through a company called Giant Leap.

Dubbed ‘One Small Step’, the initiative allows “those who are serious about flying to space” to register and be allocated a priority and firm reservation once available.

“Virgin Galactic has received a consistently high level of interest from aspiring astronauts. This has resulted in 7,957 online reservation registrations in the 14 months since the first spaceflight and more than double the number the company last reported in September 2019,” Virgin Galactic said.

That follows Virgin Galactic’s debut on the New York Stock Exchange late last year.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson ringing the bell on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2019

In a stock market update, Virgin Galactic said, “Upon Virgin Galactic releasing its next tranche of seats for sale, ‘One Small Step’ registrants will be offered the tickets first, allowing them to make the ‘One Giant Leap’ to a confirmed spaceflight reservation and gain full membership to the thriving Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut Community.”

“In light of continuing, strong progress towards commercial service, Virgin Galactic is now preparing to release its next tranche of seats for sale to the general public.”

Virgin Galactic’s Commercial Director, Stephen Attenborough, commented: “We have been greatly encouraged by the ongoing and increasing demand seen from around the world for personal spaceflight. ‘One Small Step’ allows us to help qualify and build confidence in our direct sales pipeline, as well as to ensure that those who are most keen to make reservations, are able to do so at the earliest opportunity”.

The first group of Future Astronauts going through Virgin Galactic's Readiness Program in late November 2019

The refundable US$1,000 deposit can be made online at virgingalactic.com/smallstep/
More details are available here.

No official launch date for paying passengers has been outlined by Virgin Galactic.

Image credit: Virgin Galactic

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