Virgin Galactic becomes first publicly-traded space tourism company .
Sir Richard Branson ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange
Virgin Galactic has become the first passenger-carrying spaceflight company to be publicly traded. Following a merger last week with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), shares of the new Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. company were bought and sold on the New York Stock exchange on October 28, 2019, under the stock ticker SPCE.
Building and operating spacecraft isn't cheap, and when your business model revolves around taking tourists on suborbital rides into space, cashflow becomes paramount – especially after 15 years and counting getting the first paying passenger off the ground. So, today's stock trading is an important milestone because it gives Virgin Galactic a potential shot in the financial arm.
According to Virgin Galactic, the merger on October 25 with public investment vehicle SCH provided the new holding company with US$450 million in primary proceeds. The company already has US$80 million in collected deposits from 600 people in 60 countries who have reserved berths on the Virgin Galactic spaceplane, has a potential revenue of over US$120 million, and a market capitalization of US$2.3 billion. In addition, Virgin Galactic shareholders will own nearly 59 percent of the stock in VGH.
"To fellow investors, employees of VG and The Spaceship Company, business partners and customers – thank you for your commitment to our great company, which has made today’s exciting announcement possible," said Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson at the start of trading in New York. "With our proprietary spaceflight system, special airspace access at Spaceport America, globally-recognized brand and broad investor interest, we believe Virgin Galactic is ideally positioned to capitalize on the fast-growing, multibillion-dollar commercial space market and ultimately open space to thousands of new astronauts. Today, we accomplished one mission, and as we bring more and more future astronauts to space, we look forward to accomplishing many more."
At the end of trading, VGH shares were going for US$11.75, down from the US$12.34 opening price.