- Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is expected to fly to the edge of space on Sunday.
- Roughly 600 people – including celebrities – have reserved tickets worth $250,000 for future flights.
- Another 1,000 have made deposits for when ticket sales resume after Branson’s flight.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
While Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos claim they aren’t in a race to be the first billionaire in space, a long list of wealthy people aim to be among the earliest A-listers to travel to the edge of the infinite.
Roughly 600 people from 58 countries have reserved tickets worth up to $250,000 to be in the first waves of space tourists, according to company filings. The list is widely believed to include celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Russell Brand, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Ashton Kutcher.
The number of actual reservations has held relatively steady since 2014 when SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave Desert , injuring the pilot and killing the co-pilot. Some ticket holders have been waiting more than 15 years to take their flights, according to Reuters.
In February last year, the company rolled out a campaign that pulled in another 1,000 signups – this time for refundable $1,000 deposits toward the price of a full ticket when sales reopen following Branson’s flight on Sunday.
Virgin Galactic estimates the value of deposits at $80 million, and former CEO George Whitesides told Insider he expects space tourism to eventually pull in $10 to $15 billion per year.
The company says it aims to launch as many as 400 flights per year, carrying up to six passengers and two pilots each, departing from and landing at the Spaceport America home base in New Mexico.
Lest you find the quarter-million-dollar ticket price a bit steep for just a few minutes of zero-gravity, the Spaceport offers more than your normal departure lounge amenities. At the “Gateway to Space,” which opened in 2019, future astronauts will be able to bring their families to rub elbows with pilots and rocket engineers around an Italian marble “Barista Island.”
In addition, the ticket purchase includes custom-tailored flight suits from Under Armour featuring name badges and national flags, as well as a two-day flight training program with classroom instruction and centrifuge simulations.
There’s also mountain biking and hot air balloon rides in the New Mexico outdoors to round out the adventure, because, why not?