back to article Another 100 space tourists buy a ride from Virgin Galactic: $25k of that ticket deposit is 'non-refundable'

Rocket plane company Virgin Galactic is boasting that it has sold an additional 100 seats since sales kicked off again in September. While the new price per trip is a beefy $450,000, the deposit is $150,000 – of which $25,000 is non-refundable. "Like hot cakes" is not a metaphor that springs to mind. The extra sales in …

  1. Steve K
    Mushroom

    Move quickly and break things

    I am slightly amazed that "CEO Michael Colglazier told analysts that next time Virgin Galactic would keep the FAA informed ".

    Surely that is step 1 in flight planning these jaunts?

    Let's hope the Agile/disruptive mantra "Move quickly and break things" doesn't apply literally to space tourism

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Move quickly and break things

      The whole FAA thing was spun into something much bigger than it really was by the Reg. It was a minor error caused by a minor oversight in planning, that is fixed by a minor change in procedures.

      There's a huge difference between making a mistake that directly compromises safety, and making a mistake that compromises a small part of the processes designed to ensure safety. This was very definitely the latter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Re: Move quickly and break things

        It was in no way overblown by ElReg or anyone else.

        The FAA clears the airspace for rocket launches and landings (for everyone, not just VG) for the safety of normal airline traffic. VG strayed from the cleared airspace during descent. The fact that it didn't hit anything was not a reason not to tell the FAA.

        As a result of the investigation, besides requiring VG to communicate better, the FAA was forced to expand the protected airspace for future flights due to VG's inability to stay on course.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Move quickly and break things

          "It was in no way overblown by ElReg or anyone else"

          The FAA says it was.

          "VG strayed from the cleared airspace during descent"

          Nope. Simply not true.

          "The fact that it didn't hit anything was not a reason not to tell the FAA."

          There's no suggestion anything was concealed. You appear to have imagined some completely different incident.

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Move quickly and break things

        Do you work as a PR adviser? Pretty cool spin.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Move quickly and break things

          That's literally what the FAA says. Including the bit about people spinning the story into something much bigger than it is.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge
    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Tax haven

      'Man transfers assets to jurisdiction in which he lives' is not a story.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Tax haven

        Sure, average Steve can also go to live in BVI and then move his hard earnings there to avoid greedy paws of a taxman.

        We all have to pay more tax because these people don't.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tax haven

          I think the bigger reason we have to pay more tax is because we're unable as a nation to spend money sensibly or on things that are worthwhile because we're too busy pursuing hugely expensive vanity projects to try and remember the days when we were a global superpower, so we need to recapture it by leveraging our global Britain aspirations to turbocharge our levelled up synergistic relationships between public and private sector to realise our aspirational next generation gamechanging enterprise to build back better.

          The income is fine as is, it's the expenditure that's the issue.

          If last year I made £150k, but this year I only made £20k, then I don't go out and finance a Bugatti.

  3. heyrick Silver badge

    Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

    Is there an actual commercial use case for this? It seems to me that it's just sort of joyriding really really high up, rather than, say, crossing an ocean (or east coast to west) in an hour or two...

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

      Joyride for the 1%ers.

      Muskism at its best.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

        You don't need to earn that much to be in the top 1%. Somewhere around £150k this year. About 5% of us will manage that at some point (income varies annually). I managed it first in my early 30s. In about 5 of the last 20 years too - I have a very variable income.

        These spaceflights are for the top 1% of the top 1% - a whole different sphere to operate in.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

          £150k? Whut? £50k a year puts you in the top 1% by income. Almost everyone in the UK is in the top 2.5% globally, by income.

          Conspiracy theories are based on pseudo-facts like the ones you're pushing. But they're total nonsense, like your 'facts'.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

            "The 1%ers" is a moveable target, depending on the persons stating it, their agenda and the context. It might mean people in a specific country, region or the whole world, wage earners only, adults only, working age only or all people, amongst other definitions, which vastly changes who they are.

          2. SteveK

            Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

            Really? According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (admittedly from a 2019 report):

            To be in the top 1% of income tax payers in the UK (i.e. to be among the 310,000 individuals with the highest income), a taxable income of at least £160,000 is required. £236,000 is required to be in the top 0.5% and nearly £650,000 to be in the top 0.1%. 43% of adults pay no income tax and to be in the top 1% of all adults (or the top 540,000 people), a pre-tax income of at least £120,000 is required.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

              Yes, really. Are you unable to tell the difference between the UK and the planet?

        2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

          Errr.

          Did you just say that 5% of us are in the top 1%?

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

            He said that 5% of us will attain that level of income in at least one year of their life.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

      Is there an actual commercial use case for this?

      Leisure and tourism, and the entertainment industry are as commercial as it gets. Are you suggesting that Disneyworld isn't a commercial enterprise?

      Having said that, the article states that the next flight, Unity 23, for the Italian Air Force is a research mission.

    3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

      "Is there an actual commercial use case for this?"

      Yes, very much so. Not the 'space tourism', of course. That is just a way of making some money during the development of the real system.

      People (mostly) don't seem to have clocked that the payload - the tourist capsule - is sufficiently heavy that it could be replaced with a small orbital vehicle (and the required thrusters). The total launch cost to orbit is significantly lower than rocket-from-the-ground systems.

      While the Musky one has rockets that can get into orbit, it's the same old system used for a century - take off from ground level carrying all your fuel and oxidiser. Virgin are doing something new, using air-breathing jet engines to add height and (crucially) speed to a payload.

      Whether this can be successfully scaled-up and made to work is still arguable. But it's definitely an ambitious attempt to move launches to new tech, and capture a large slice of the sat-launch market, rather than a plaything for rich people.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

        And not forgetting the potential for high speed sub-orbital point to point travel for those who can afford it.

        1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

          Not so much. Not since 2001/09/11.

          Looks too much like a ballistic missile.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

        Haven't followed the Bearded Ones "efforts" so much

        Does this air-launched vehicle have any path to actually being orbital?

        There is a big difference between boosting a rocket cockpit to 80km before dropping back and doing 10km/s sideways to actually orbit

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

          "Does this air-launched vehicle have any path to actually being orbital?"

          Yes. They're getting enough payload up there to save a rocket stage, effectively.

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

        > Virgin are doing something new, using air-breathing jet engines to add height and (crucially) speed to a payload.

        Pegasus have been doing it for 25+ years.

        It adds very little speed and none of it vertical

        It adds 40,000ft, out of 100km, height - not enough to allow you to optomise engine nozzles for vacuum

        It's main advantage is that you can launch from regions like LA, where they wouldn't let you set off a rocket, and you can get above local weather to some extent.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

          "It adds 40,000ft, out of 100km"

          Gah!

          Please don't mix measurement systems (unless using El Reg approved units of course.)

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

            Unfortunately flying is in medieval and English, while space is metric and speaks German

        2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

          "It adds very little speed and none of it vertical"

          Well, someone doesn't understand even the most basic points about getting into orbit, so their opinion can be discarded.

          It's a scalar, not a vector.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't you have to go into space in order to be an astronaut?

      I believe the commercial case is that the only way the rich and famous can tell us about the fragility of the environment is to burn vast amounts of carbon on a few minutes joyriding into the upper atmosphere.

  4. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

    Point Avoider

    I just don't know how to feel about the Star Trek-ness of that logo.

    I understand how long-standing the chevron is in this kinda iconography sort of thing, but I just can't help but feel a little 'damn kids get off my lawn' about it.

  5. Ceyarrecks

    Real Life Example?

    in case anyone needs another Real Life example of "a fool and their $£¥ are soon parted."

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Real Life Example?

      Praxis - a good way of redistributing their $£¥ to a bunch of engineers (or mostly marketing people) in aerospace.

  6. joed

    all the talk of impending climate doom

    while the waste like this is glorified as yet another achievement of technology/human race. I guess different standards are applied to those with boatload of $ and those that can barely afford a beater car (and may soon be forced to walk everywhere once their PoS vehicle is considered outside of compliance with some arbitrarily stringent policies applicable only to unwashed masses).

  7. David 132 Silver badge

    That waiting area, though.

    For my $450,000 I'd expect a waiting area that looks a little less like the kind of booth an SME might book at the last minute at a Midlands industrial products expo.

    "Hello, Taylor Group? Yeah, we've booked a 3m x 3m floorspace and want a meeting area and somewhere to store our product brochures, and we have a budget of £150 for the whole thing. Do you have some formica furniture left over from Surgical Appliance World 2019 that we could re-use?"

  8. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
    Go

    Honestly

    Yes I know that practical uses are lacking. (Virgin's orbital company have switched to a very different system.)

    Yes, I know it's terribly wasteful and polluting.

    Yes, it's not even meeting the international standard for what counts as reaching space.

    Fact is, if I had access to $450,000 I'd be in the queue in a heartbeat. Hopping around excitedly like an eight year old at Disney World. Even if it left me penniless, even with a significant risk of coming home in a box. Or several boxes.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Honestly

      You could just 'invest' the $450K into a congressperson and get them to change the definition to 100m, then you could become an astronaut by walking up some stairs

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Honestly

        The view wouldn't be all that, microgravity during the descent would be real short and the landing a bit rough.

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