🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now

Turning space into Virgin territory

Alisa Roth Feb 21, 2008


Scott Jagow: When it comes to flying, there are few people as bold as Richard Branson. Between his personal exploits and his Virgin airlines, he’s no doubt a pioneer of the skies. Today, we learned more about Branson’s next frontier, Virgin Galactic.
By the name, I think you can guess what that’s about. Here’s Alisa Roth.

Alisa Roth: The official launch of commercial space travel is scheduled for two years from now. But Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson is shooting for the stars: he’s ready to order five more spaceships to add to his fleet. And he thinks the business is ready for lift off: he’s expecting to turn a profit by 2015.

Airline analyst Richard Aboulafia says it could happen:

Richard Aboulafia: I think it’s possible that in a few years, you’ll meet people at very elite cocktail parties who say, “Space, you’ve never been?” or something like that.

With a caveat:

Aboulafia: But of course, they’ll only have been for a few minutes, and not nearly at the altitudes that astronauts experience.

Aboulafia says the financial success of the Virgin enterprise will depend a lot on government subsidy of the up-front costs.

In a video on the Virgin Galactic website, Branson promises the experience will knock would-be Armstrongs off their feet:

Sir Richard Branson: We’re designing our spacecraft so that each of our passengers will have the room and the freedom to enjoy the amazing sensation of weightlessness.

The least you could expect for a $200,000 ticket. How about some free peanuts?

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.