Spaceflight tourism venture Virgin Galactic is expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange as early as Monday, October 28th, CNBC reports. The listing comes after the company’s shareholders approved Virgin Galactic’s merger with venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia — a deal that is expected to close on Friday, October 25th, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company’s stock will be listed under the symbols SPCE.
Virgin Galactic announced in July that it planned to become the first space tourism company to go public through a reverse merger with Social Capital Hedosophia. The deal involved a roughly $800 million investment from Social Capital, which would acquire a 49 percent stake in Virgin Galactic. The companies claimed the merger gave them a new valuation of $1.5 billion.
Virgin Galactic’s business revolves around sending passengers to the edge of space and back during a brief ride so they can experience a few moments of weightlessness. Customers will head to space in a spaceplane called VSS Unity, which will take off in midair after being released from a carrier aircraft. After a short stay more than 50 miles above the Earth, the plane will reenter the atmosphere and glide back down, landing on a runway like a regular aircraft. So far, the company has sold about 600 tickets, priced at $250,000 apiece.
When Virgin Galactic first announced the merger with Social Capital Hedosophia in July, it claimed bold projections for the years ahead. The company estimated that it would be making $590 million in revenue by 2023 and would be flying 270 flights a year with at least five passengers on board each trip. So far, Virgin Galactic has only sent its plane into space twice during its 15-year history, sending two pilots on one trip in December 2018 as well as two pilots and a passenger on the second trip in February.
Right now, Virgin Galactic has put a slight pause on flight tests as the company transitions from its test facility in Mojave, California, to its permanent home at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The company recently unveiled the flight suits that its customers will wear during their trips, and it claims that the first commercial missions will begin in mid-2020.