Sir Richard Branson has announced that he is planning to float his space venture Virgin Galactic on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.
Branson said he hoped to be there to ring the bell himself as his space flight company becomes the first to go public next week.
“I’ll be in New York and hopefully ringing the bell and that should be very exciting if all goes well,” Branson said at an event in Israel yesterday.
Earlier this month, Boeing announced a $20m investment in the space-tourism venture in preparation for the company’s public listing.
Boeing would receive new shares of Virgin Galactic in return for the investment made by its venture capital arm Boeing Horizon X Ventures.
So far, Branson’s firm has poured $1bn in its attempt to be the first company to offer space flights to the public.
Earlier this year Virgin’s rocket plane flew to the edge of space with a test passenger for the first time, bringing it a step closer to its goal of suborbital flights.
The space race is heating up as Virgin Galactic competes with rivals such as Blue Origin, backed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk’s Space X.
Virgin Galactic has already sold 600 tickets to take passengers into space, at $250,000 each, with buyers including pop star Justin Beiber and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Branson even raised the possibility of a lunar hotel as the next step. Instead of focusing on humans inhabiting Mars – an idea floated by Bezos and Musk – Branson’s vision suggests a possible tourist industry.
“We’re looking at creating something like a Virgin Hotel in space,” he told City A.M.
“It may develop into that [colonising Mars]. But I think that we feel a hotel in space would be better, maybe just on the Moon, may be better than actually colonising.”
In an interview alongside the Virgin Galactic news, Branson told City A.M. that he was a fan of Extinction Rebellion.
But he warned the protesters not to “piss people off” after the activists bloicked trains and roads in London.
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