Bold blue banners decorated the NYSE building in downtown Manhattan on Monday to announce Galactic’s arrival.
Venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya created Hedosophia as a “blank check” investing tool that pooled money while its handlers searched for an takeover target. When Galactic and Hedosophia announced their merger deal in July, the companies’ combined value was said to be roughly $1.5 billion. Palihapitiya also personally invested $100 million of his own money in Galactic.
Branson’s firm bought that technology and has worked for the past 15 years to create a larger rocket-powered plane capable of hauling up to six paying customers on brief flights to the edge of space.
The company says it will be ready to start commercial operations next year.
Galactic CEO George Whitesides called the company’s debut on the NYSE the “start of a new era for the human spaceflight industry.”
“Now that VG is a publicly traded company, anyone can invest in a human spaceflight company that is striving to truly transform the market and be part of the excitement of the commercial space industry,” Whitesides said in a statement.
But Galactic says there’s enough interest to support one or more tourism businesses, and there’s a long list of people who have shown interest in buying tickets next time they’re on sale.
New Space investing
The biggest name in the arena, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, launches rockets and spacecraft for NASA, the US military and commercial satellite companies. But Musk has said he will avoid taking SpaceX public until the company has achieved some of the riskier milestones Musk has laid out — including building a rocket capable of establishing a human settlement on Mars.
Hoards of other space startups — pursuing everything from rockets to satellite software — are playing the venture capital game.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the number of seats on the Ansari X Prize winning space plane.