Private spaceflight company Virgin Galactic on Thursday announced that it would postpone the launch of its commercial spaceflight services to the first quarter of 2023 due to shortages in labour and supply chain issues.
The Sir Richard Branson-founded company was earlier slated to launch its commercial spaceflight services in the last quarter of 2022.
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“Against a backdrop of escalating supply chain and labor constraints, our teams are containing the majority of these issues to minimize impact on schedules,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier announced at the end of the company’s earnings meeting on Thursday, explaining the delay.
“We look forward to returning to space in the fourth quarter and launching commercial service in the first quarter of next year,” he added, clarifying the revised timeline.
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Shares of the company, which in July 2021 completed its first manned flight to the edge of space with Branson on board, fell nearly 2% after the announcement during extended trading.
Despite the delay, however, the Virgin Galactic earnings report stated that demand for tickets remained strong, with as many as 800 potential customers in queue.
A couple of months earlier, the company had announced the opening of ticket sales to the public.
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Virgin Galactic, over the last decade, had taken reservations for 600 seats on its future flights, with each seat being sold for $200,000-$250,000. In 2021, however, the company raised ticket prices to almost double the earlier rate, to $450,000 per seat.
The opening of ticket sales to the public had provided a much needed boost to Virgin Galactic’s stock price, which had taken a battering after the company announced the postponement of the launch of commercial spaceflight services to late 2022.