Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are about to lose out on another important milestone to Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic: First space tourism company to go public.
According to Reuters, Virgin is planning an IPO as part of a deal with a special purpose acquisition company created by Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya.
SPAC’s typically have two years to raise money from investors and spend it to help take a company public.
The SPAC will reportedly invest about $800 million for a 49% stake in Virgin Galactic, according to the Wall Street Journal. That includes about $100 million that Palihapitiya is personally committing to the deal. Virgin’s existing investors will be left with a 51% stake, will retain control of the company.
Virgin has already collected some $80 million in deposits from customers who hope to be among the first tourists traveling to space, at a clip of $200,000 to $250,000 per seat. The company has raised $1 billion since 2004, mostly from Branson’s personal fortune.
Branson will be among the first travelers, and plans to be the first non-crew member to board the plane.
“Hopefully, in not many months’ time, I’ll fulfill my dream of going to space and others will soon follow,” Branson said earlier this year, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin expects to launch its first person into space by the end of the year.
SpaceX, which has focused more on launching satellites and resupply missions to the International Space Station, also plans to send tourists into space.