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Virgin Galactic is getting closer to taking passengers into space

Feb. 27, 2020
3 min read
Virgin Galactic is getting closer to taking passengers into space
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Do you have $250,000 and a penchant for adventure?

You could become a space explorer in the near future — or possibly this year if your name is Richard Branson.

Virgin Galactic, the Branson-backed private space venture, says it is getting ever-closer to the first commercial passenger space flights.

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The company has planned for space flights since as early as 2010, but the first flight has been delayed repeatedly over the last decade. Virgin Galactic is taking refundable $1,000 deposits from the public, though, if you want to get on the list for a future trip into orbit.

For now, though, it appears the company's founder is set to be the first passenger -- possibly sometime this year.

At a Wings Club luncheon in New York on Thursday, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said that the company is "all in" on getting Branson to low-Earth orbit this year, and that the future of commercial space flight looks bright.

Related: Virgin Galactic Unveils New Lounge, Mission Control for Space Flights

"For the vast majority of our customers, it will create the first realistic opportunity to experience space travel firsthand," he said.

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Whitesides expanded on Virgin Galactic's mission in his speech. In addition to providing an opportunity for average humans to see Earth from space, he said the company will provide an opportunity for research scientists to benefit more easily from low-gravity experiments. And, he added, the flights might come to represent the future of point-to-point travel between destinations on Earth.

Earlier this week, the company backed off recent guidance that space flights could launch as early as June. But when paying customers do finally get into space, Whitesides said, all six passengers on every flight will have two windows each.

Aside from an earlier raffle that allowed Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members to use 2 million miles toward a chance to win a Virgin Galactic flight, Whitesides said the company has no plans for regular points redemptions yet.

Related: Astronauts share their best travel tips for Earthlings

"We're more focused on the technical aspects right now," he told TPG at the Thursday luncheon.

Branson said on an investor call earlier this week that the company is still conducting final tests and seeking some regulatory approvals, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The company went public last year, and while its financial position has been relatively strong, its stocks have taken a hit in recent days.

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023