The CEO of Virgin Galactic has set a goal to bring tourists to the edge of space at a speed of more than once a day, because the private space company hopes to capitalize on the success of its founder, Sir Richard Branson Test flight In the weekend.
However, Michael Colglazier, who headed Virgin Galactic a year ago, did not elaborate on the company’s timetable for expanding commercial operations, and admitted that it faces huge obstacles to expansion in the short term. “I think this will be a very supply-constrained business for some time,” he said.
Branson’s test flight on Sunday was nine days ahead of Jeff Bezos’s first flight on a rocket from his private aerospace company Blue Origin. As Virgin Galactic is trying to build the first commercial space tourism business, the leading start may bring valuable additional publicity to it, and it will conduct two more tests this year before it can deliver paying passengers in 2022.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Colglazier said that the company plans to replace the current prototype spacecraft with two new spacecraft next year. These spacecraft are designed to be easier to maintain and thus speed up the turnaround between flights. He added that it is also planning how to mass-produce a future version of the spacecraft, which will be designed with ease of manufacturing in mind.
“In each spaceport, our goal is about 400 flights per year,” Colglazier said. “I’m looking forward to spaceships from high single digits to low two digits [at each site] In order to reach such a figure. “
He added that after successful testing this weekend, Virgin Galactic will also seek to expand its operations at its first base in New Mexico and “look for other spaceports around the world and start bringing them to more places.”
However, since each flight can only accommodate four passengers, Virgin Galactic is facing a severe shortage of seats in the short term. More than 600 people paid an average of US$130,000 per person to get a chance to ride one of the spacecraft, while another 1,000 people paid a deposit of US$1,000.
Branson was originally scheduled to arrive in space later this summer, but a few days after Bezos announced the date of his own space trip, he proposed his flight plan last month. Colglazier denied that Branson has been competing with Bezos. Instead, he said, Branson changed his plan because it no longer needed a second flight to test the company’s customer experience—the official role he was assigned in the test.
Speaking of the huge publicity caused by the quick announcement that seemed to pit Branson and Bezos against each other, he said: “The most interesting story seems to be the billionaire space race. No.”