Another 100 space tourists buy a ride from Virgin Galactic: $25k of that ticket deposit is 'non-refundable'

Firm still manages to lose $48m while Italian Air Force waits to board Branson's space jalopy

Rocket plane company Virgin Galactic is boasting that it has sold an additional 100 seats since sales kicked off again in September.

While the new price per trip is a beefy $450,000, the deposit is $150,000 – of which $25,000 is non-refundable. "Like hot cakes" is not a metaphor that springs to mind.

The extra sales in calendar Q3 have brought the total number of what the company calls "future astronauts" to 700. Virgin Galactic is aiming for 1,000 ticket sales before it kicks off commercial service.

The news came as the space arm of Richard Branson's holdings reported its calendar Q3, saying losses had narrowed. Nonetheless, it continues to provide backing for the saying: "How do you make a small fortune in the space business? Start with a large one."

spaceport america waiting lounge

A waiting lounge area in Spaceport America – no, you don't get armrests as well for your $450,000. Greedy...

The company reported a loss of $48m for the quarter ending 30 September 2021, compared to a $92m net loss for the same time in 2020. Revenues stood at $2.6m for the three months.

As for when VG plans to bus the tourists to space, the company confirmed it remained a year out from commencing that commercial service, which is plenty of time to keep burning through the cash. In July 2021, it generated $500m by selling approximately 13.7 million shares of common stock, with proceeds headed for "general corporate purposes" and building more spaceships.

Following the Unity 22 flight (and subsequent furore with the FAA and issues with a supplier component) Virgin Galactic started a "planned enhancement program" for both the carrier aircraft VMS Eve and the rocket plane VSS Unity, with the Italian Air Force mission (Unity 23) taking place afterwards, in 2022.

Once that mission is done (as well as "vehicle testing") the long-delayed first commercial flight can finally take place.

And the FAA? While it remains vaguely surprising that there was no procedure to communicate the deviation of Unity 22's flight path to air traffic control in real-time, CEO Michael Colglazier told analysts that next time Virgin Galactic would keep the FAA informed and had expanded the protected air space "for future flights."

As for building a fleet, the next SpaceShipTwo, VSS Imagine, is scheduled to take its first glide flight towards the end of 2022 before starting revenue-generating flights in 2023. Virgin Galactic also has plans to up the flights between major inspections for VMS Eve from 10 flights to 100 flights and increase its flight cadence to 400 flights per year per spaceport. If it manages this, that would be quite a leap from the four powered flights achieved by VSS Unity since 2018. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022