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Virgin Galactic signed an agreement with NASA that will allow the space tourism venture to train astronauts for trips to the International Space Station. SPCE stock price is rising.
Shares of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) rose on Monday after the Richard Branson’s company signed an agreement with NASA that will enable the space tourism company also to educate astronauts for traveling to the International Space Station. That is planned to be made within the company’s flights to the edge of space.
The company is publicly traded. However, the major owner is still its founder Richard Branson together with his chairman Chamath Palihapitiya. On Monday they confirmed signing a “Space Act Agreement” with NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which leads the agency’s astronaut program in Houston.
At the time of writing, Virgin Galactic stock rose as much as 13.73% to $17.06.
Deal between Virgin Galactic and NASA
Under the signed agreement, Virgin Galactic pledged to establish a “private orbital astronaut readiness program,” pretty much similar to the one it already has to prepare tourists for its own flights.
The company also stated it will pursue purchasing seats on flights to the space station, right now offered by SpaceX with its Crew Dragon spacecraft. Virgin Galactic stated the missions “could range from private citizen expeditions to government-enabled scientific research.”
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides stated:
“We are excited to partner with NASA on this private orbital spaceflight program, which will not only allow us to use our spaceflight platform, but also offer our space training infrastructure to NASA and other agencies.”
The announcement did not precise the amount NASA intends to pay Virgin Galactic under the agreement. Right now, Virgin Galactic has 603 reservations from private passengers to fly to space. An interesting fact is that most of these tickets have been sold for $200,000 to $250,000 per person. However, the company still hasn’t begun with its commercial service. Currently, it is testing continuing at the company’s operating base in New Mexico toward its first flight of a paying customer.
However, we should mention the fact that earlier this month Branson said he is considering selling another bash of his stake in Virgin Galactic Holdings, a move that could give approximately $US200 million ($290 million) in order to support his broader Virgin business empire.
Buying an Island as Well
Holding company Vieco 10 is said to have serious intentions to sell as many as 12.5 million shares in the space-travel firm, according to a regulatory filing. Branson’s Virgin Group is the Vieco’s majority owner, with the balance held by Aabar Space, an Abu Dhabi investment company.
During the last 50 years, Branson built Virgin Group into a rambling collection of businesses with year-on-year revenues surpassing $20 billion.
However, his practice of plunging most of the profits back into the ventures has left him clambering for cash during the pandemic as governments flinch at bailing out a billionaire famous for his bombastic public tricks.
Together with selling Virgin Galactic shares, Branson has also pledged a Caribbean island and approximately $250 million to shore up his empire blustered by the COVID-19 pandemic.