The space tourism company Virgin Galactic announced on Tuesday that the general public could buy a $450,000 ticket to spend a few minutes in space.

The first flights taking customers should take place at the end of 2022, the company, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, had previously announced.

Tickets had already been put back on sale since August, but they had so far been reserved for people already registered on a waiting list.

In November, Virgin Galactic announced that it had sold 100 tickets at the price of $450,000.

These were added to the 600 already sold between 2005 and 2014 for a lower price (between 200,000 and 250,000 dollars).

The option to register will now be open to everyone from Wednesday, Virgin Galactic said in a statement on Tuesday.

A deposit of $150,000 will be required.

A 90 minute flight

The trip, which lasts 90 minutes in total including the duration of the ascent, must take place from the Spaceport America space base in the New Mexico desert, after "several days" of training.

The company uses a huge carrier plane, which takes off from a conventional runway, then drops a vessel resembling a large private jet from altitude.

This one turns on its engine until it exceeds 80 km in altitude, then descends while gliding.

Once up there, passengers can detach themselves to experience a few minutes of weightlessness, and admire the curvature of the Earth through the portholes.

Virgin Galactic is currently making modifications to the carrier aircraft and the ship, intended to improve the performance of the craft and their ability to fly more frequently.

This period, which began in October, should last 9 to 10 months, a spokeswoman said at the time.

Then, a new test flight is planned with passengers from the Italian Air Force, and scientific experiments on board.

The battle for space tourism

The start of actual commercial activities is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2022, the company said in November.

At the beginning of July, the Briton Richard Branson had reached space during a flight also carrying three other employees of the company.

A few days later, billionaire Jeff Bezos had also crossed the final frontier aboard a rocket from his own company, Blue Origin.

But if Virgin Galactic has not flown since, Blue Origin has operated two other missions.


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Virgin Galactic sells 100 space travel tickets for $450,000 each

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