Richard Branson stops financing Virgin Galactic: flights will halt from 2024

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has refused to invest in his own space tourism company. The billionaire explained that his decision was influenced by a decrease in financial opportunities after the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the company plans to stop commercial flights of VSS Unity for 18 months, starting in 2024. Thus, the company will be able to save money on the development of a new Delta spacecraft. This spacecraft should increase passenger traffic and flight frequency.

Richard Branson. Photo: Virgin Galactic

Branson confirmed that Virgin Galactic’s financial resources have been reduced, but the company still has about USD 1 billion, so the company plans to independently ensure its development. He expressed his admiration for the successful commercial space flights conducted by the company over the past six months, with prices starting at USD 450,000 per seat on board. 

Virgin Group remains one of Virgin Galactic’s largest shareholders, but it has reduced its stake to 7.7% after selling USD 1 billion of shares in 2020 and 2021. The proceeds were used to support other segments of the Virgin Group’s leisure and travel business that were affected during the pandemic.

In addition, Branson’s other space startup, Virgin Orbit, went bankrupt due to serious problems. In particular, the company was severely impacted by the failure of the last mission and the exhaustion of financial resources. Analysts believe that the experience of Virgin Orbit may influence Virgin Galactic’s approaches to the efficient use of resources.

VSS Unity spaceplane

At the time of its debut on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, Virgin Galactic was valued at USD 2.3 billion. During all this time, it has not managed to become profitable, so at the close of trading on December 1, the company was estimated at only USD 935 million. 

The situation around Virgin Galactic and Virgin Group reflects fundamental changes in the business world, which is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. On the one hand, there is a desire for innovation and the development of space tourism, and on the other hand, there is a need for strict budget planning and rethinking priorities. This points to how even influential figures like Richard Branson are having to adapt to changing economic realities.

We previously reported on how space tourism would become available in 2073. But most are afraid of such a journey.

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