Space tourism company Virgin Galactic lost $ 60 million in the first quarter of 2020, down from the $ 73 million net loss it suffered at the end of last year, according to the company’s income statement today. The company says it achieved sales of just $ 238,000 this first quarter by “providing engineering services.”
In addition to these results, Virgin Galactic announces that 400 people will have deposited refundable deposits to travel on the company’s tourist aircraft in the future. The total cost of the flight in the vehicle is $ 250,000, but thanks to a new initiative, Virgin Galactic allowed aspiring astronauts to deposit only $ 1,000 to reserve a seat for a future flight. The company says these deposits represent “more than $ 100 million in potential future revenue when the ticket is paid in full.”
Virgin Galactic is also announcing today that it is getting help from NASA to develop future high-mach vehicles – or supersonic jets – that could potentially be used for high-speed air travel. Today, the company announced a new space law agreement with NASA that will leverage space agency research in the area of supersonic air travel.
For the past two decades, Virgin Galactic’s main objective has been to send paying customers to the edge of space and to return to taste weightlessness quickly. The company’s main vehicle is the VSS Unity, a space plane that deploys under the wing of a giant plane in the air. Pilots aboard the space plane ignite the vehicle’s onboard engine to climb to an altitude of 50 miles above Earth, which many consider to be the limit of space. Passengers at this height would experience a few minutes of flutter before the aircraft descends to Earth and lands on a runway.
Although space tourism is Virgin Galactic’s ultimate goal, the company has expressed interest in expanding its capabilities. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson spoke of possibly developing point-to-point travel, which implies that rocket-powered vehicles carry passengers from one point on Earth to another. Point-to-point travel has also been launched by other companies, including SpaceX, but this technology is far from reality. And the feasibility of these forms of travel raises concerns.
The development of supersonic aircraft, however, could be an important step for point-to-point travel to occur. And NASA has a lot of experience with these types of high-mach vehicles, with decades of history developing airplanes to travel faster than the speed of sound. In recent years, NASA has also been working on a new “silent” supersonic jet. called the QueSST X-59.