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Virgin Galactic Looks To Go Public In $800 Million Deal

The space race is heating up, with Richard Branson's space tourism business, Virgin Galactic, revealing its plans to go public by the end of 2019.

Billionaire Richard Branson's space-tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, is reportedly preparing to go public by the end of this year as part of an agreement with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) created by venture-capital firms Social Capital and Hedosophia.

Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp will obtain a 49 percent stake of Virgin Galactic. The offer involves a financial investment of approximately $800 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, and must fund its spaceships until operations can begin turning a profit.

Virgin Galactic was created in 2004 and has received more than $1 billion in investments from eager would-be space-travelers since. The aerospace business said the new merger will supply sufficient financial support in order for it to reach its goals of commercial space travel.

More than 600 people in over 60 nations have spent roughly $80 million to reserve seats on Branson's rocketships in hopes of being the first to gain access to this unique new service.

Virgin Galactic in February secured its position in the space race with a test passenger for the very first time, pushing the company closer to its goal of suborbital flights for space vacationists. However, his ambitious timeline for taking consumers into space stumbled a fatal setback when the original SpaceShipTwo crashed on a test flight in 2014, killing the co-pilot and seriously injured the pilot.

Mr. Branson has said he plans to be the very first passenger on SpaceShipTwo's very first business flight in mid-2019.

The space race is gaining speed

Virgin Galactic's objective is to produce a space tourist market where wealthy travelers spend more than $200,000 per seat to fly to the edge of space. But he's not the only billionaire in the space race... Related: Amazon Set To Leave Many Of Its Long-Time Vendors

Competitor Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, wants the same and has plans to send its first tourist into space by the end of this year.

Elon Musk's SpaceX likewise plans to send travelers into the final frontier but has up until now focused mainly on launching crewless rockets with satellites and products for the International Space Station.

Space stocks are on the rise

While private equity placements in some of the industry's more exciting companies remain out of reach for the average investor, other more established space stocks can't be ignored.

Both Maxar Technologies and Lockheed Martin have had a stellar start to the second half of the year.

Maxar, for its part, has secured a couple of major deals, including a $375 million contract with NASA to design, build and demonstrate operations of a spacecraft that could support returning humans to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

By Michael Kern

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