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Virgin Galactic to become 1st space tourism company on NYSE

By
Danielle Haynes
Virgin Galactic is expected to trade under the ticker symbol SPCE. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Virgin Galactic is expected to trade under the ticker symbol SPCE. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Virgin Galactic is set to become the first commercial spaceflight company to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange next week, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing indicates.

The Wednesday filing shows the company, founded by Richard Branson, was expected to merge Friday with Social Capital Hedosophia, a venture capital firm. After the completion of the merger, the two companies were expected to trade under the ticker symbol SPCE on Monday.

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The two companies have a combined valuation of $1.5 billion. Branson will have a 51 percent controlling stake.

Branson announced the merger and plans to begin publicly trading in July. He said the company's goal is to create a space tourism industry in which wealthy travelers spend more than $200,000 per seat to fly to the edge of space. Competitor Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is after the same goal and plans to launch its first tourist into space by the end of this year.

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Elon Musk's SpaceX also aims to send tourists into space but has so far focused primarily on launching unmanned rockets with satellites and supplies for the International Space Station.

Branson said he originally hoped for investment from Saudi Arabia, but pulled away after the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last fall.

As part of Virgin Galactic's commercial spaceflight plans, the company, along with Under Armour, unveiled prototype spacesuits designed to explore the moon and Mars earlier this month. The uniforms include a spacesuit, training suit, footwear and a jacket.

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