10 (Xinhua) — Demand from potential space tourists is growing steadily as the company approaches its goal of starting commercial flights this year, George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, the world’s first space travel company, said Thursday. He said the company planned to resume ticket sales later this year, when ticket prices could rise significantly.
Virgin Galactic’s space travel fares cost about $250,000, and 603 people from 60 countries have paid a deposit. But the company suspended ticket sales after a test flight crashined a pilot in 2014, killing one of its pilots. Since then, the company has upgraded its spacecraft, spent years verifying its safety, and sent five passengers into space in two successful test flights.
In its third-quarter results, released in November, Virgin Galactic said it had received 3,557 bookings.
Mr. Whiteside outlined the company’s goals for the year ahead Thursday, with the number one priority being to send founder Richard Branson into space. Until then, Virgin Galactic will move its spaceship Unity from its test center in Mojave, California, to spaceport in New Mexico. The company will then complete a series of test flights at the new site, as well as design the spacecraft’s cabin for its customers.