Jul 9, 2019

Virgin Galactic is going public

Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images

Virgin Galactic is going public, joining with former Facebook senior executive Chamath Palihapitiya's Social Capital Hedosophia in a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that will see SCH invest $800 million for a 49% stake in the company.

Details: The company is expected to finish the merger by the second half of the year, according to a press release sent this morning, making Richard Branson's space-tourism venture into the first publicly traded human spaceflight company.

  • Virgin Galactic is in a race with Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to send tourists into space, and the company expects the deal will provide enough capital to fund the business until its commercial spaceships can operate and turn a profit.
  • Virgin Galactic has raised more than $1 billion since it was founded in 2004, mostly from Branson's own fortune.

Our thought bubble from Axios Space newsletter writer Miriam Kramer: Taking the company public is a bold move for a private spaceflight company that has yet to fly its first tourists. Spaceflight is hard, and Virgin Galactic's program has been marked by delays and a tragic accident in 2014 that killed one pilot and injured another.

  • And Axios' Felix Salmon: If this deal values Virgin Galactic at $1.5 billion, that's less than 5% of the valuation of SpaceX.

Go deeper: Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic conducts historic 2nd test flight

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Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, today announced that it will go public via a complex financial transaction called a reverse merger. Dan digs into the deal and its ramifications with Axios Space editor Miriam Kramer.

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Blue Origin gets closer to flying people to the edge of space

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket lifting off. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin is just a few test flights away from flying people to suborbital space by the end of the year, CEO Bob Smith told Axios.

Why it matters: If the Jeff Bezos-founded company does manage to fly humans to the edge of space aboard its New Shepard system before the end of the year, it makes the company a major player in the suborbital game.

Go deeperArrowJul 23, 2019

Blue Origin details plans to get NASA to the Moon by 2024

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While there may not be money in harvesting resources from the Moon yet, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is playing the long game, developing its capabilities in preparation for the day that could pay off.

The big picture: In the short term, the company wants to help NASA get astronauts back to the Moon. In the long term, Blue Origin hopes to bring about a future where millions of people are living and working in space, sustained, at least in part, by harvesting resources from the Moon.

Go deeperArrowJul 20, 2019