Virgin Galactic becomes world’s first publicly traded human spaceflight company

Stephen Kuper

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), a public investment vehicle, announced the completion of a merger to form Virgin Galactic Holdings, with the company now traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Virgin Galactic becomes world’s first publicly traded human spaceflight company
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VG already has customer reservations from more than 600 people in 60 countries representing approximately $80 million in total collected deposits, and over $120 million of potential revenue.

The completion of the merger and trading as a public company are the next milestones on the path towards building a thriving commercial service business and investing appropriately for the future.

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic Holdings, welcomed the confirmed merger, highlighting its importance: "Now that VG is a publicly traded company, anyone can invest in a human spaceflight company that is striving to truly transform the market and be part of the excitement of the commercial space industry. I am proud of the strong flow of customer deposits and interest we have earned to date, and look forward to making the dream of spaceflight come true for our amazing astronaut customers."

As a result of this transaction, Virgin Galactic has received over US$450 million of primary proceeds and as at market close on Friday, 25 October, the business has a market capitalisation of US$2.3 billion.

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Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of SCH, added, "Since our founding, SCH set out to unite technologists, entrepreneurs and technology-oriented investors around a shared vision. What was once a pursuit is now a successfully completed mission. We are pleased to have reached today’s monumental milestone and look forward to continuing to work with the company to transform the commercial space industry."

Going forward, existing Virgin Galactic shareholders will own nearly 59 per cent of the merged entity. The company’s board of directors consists of Palihapitiya as chairman, Adam Bain and James Ryans, who were directors of SCH, as well as Wanda Austin, Craig Kreeger, George Mattson, Evan Lovell and Whitesides.

Sir Richard, founder of Virgin Galactic, welcomed the announcement, saying, "To fellow investors, employees of VG and The Spaceship Company, business partners and customers – thank you for your commitment to our great company, which has made today’s exciting announcement possible.

"With our proprietary spaceflight system, special airspace access at Spaceport America, globally-recognised brand and broad investor interest, I believe VG is ideally positioned to capitalise on the fast-growing, multibillion-dollar commercial space market and ultimately open space to thousands of new astronauts. Today, we achieved one mission, and as we bring more and more future astronauts to space, we look forward to the future," Branson added. 

Virgin Galactic Holdings is a vertically-integrated aerospace company pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers. It believes the commercial exploration of space represents one of the most exciting and significant technology initiatives of our time. 

Virgin Galactic Holdings is embarking on this commercial exploration journey with a mission to put humans into space and return them safely to Earth on a routine, consistent and affordable basis.

The company is in the final stages of development, having already completed multiple crewed flights of its vehicle into space, and anticipates initial commercial launch in 2020.

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