Virgin Galactic line up 3 space-bound passenger flights per month in big move

Virgin Galactic has announced exciting plans for three flights into space every month – although it will set intrepid travellers back £335,000 a head for the privilege.

From 2023 the firm led by Sir Richard Branson will take members of the public into space every ten days.

Tickets will now set you back a whopping $450,000 (£336,000) – and 700 people have already reserved a seat on the first available flights.

Those customers paid a $1,000 (£750) deposit to get priority access to tickets as soon as they're up for sale next year.

Shares of Virgin Galactic were up more than 6% in trading after the news went public.

Vehicle VSS Unity, which took Sir Richard to space in July, will fly ticket holders above the atmosphere once per month from 2023.

And new vessel VSS Imagine will join Virgin Galactic's fleet after test flights in early 2023.

Virgin will hire amateur astronauts later that year.

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On top of Unity's monthly adventures into space, Imagine will fly twice a month.

Branson has blamed coronavirus for delays in Virgin Galactic's commercial space flights, which have been anticipated for well over a decade.

Sir Richard has been mocked for his presumed status of 'third place' in the billionaire space race, behind Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla plus SpaceX chief Elon Musk.

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Virgin Galactic said the delays are also due to planned refurbishments which will "enhance" its spacecraft and improve its performance.

Its stock prices fell by around 20% overnight as a result of the most recent delays, which were confirmed earlier this month.

The company also met controversy after the Federal Aviation Authority grounded its flights in the wake of a warning light revelation published by the New Yorker.

Sir Richard's pioneering space flight on July 11 flight strayed from its "entry glide cone" – meaning it didn't rise steeply enough to make its way down safely on the British billionaire's historic trip to the edge of space.

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But his highly anticipated space flight kept going despite warnings to the pilots that they should end the mission immediately.

Aborting the mission would have meant huge embarrassment for Sir Richard and Virgin Galactic as he sought to get ahead of his billionaire rivals Elon Musk with SpaceX and Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin.

A Virgin Galactic spokesperson said: "We dispute the misleading characterisations and conclusions in the New Yorker article published.”

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