It's likely to be a long time before traveling into space is anything like affordable, and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic just announced a price increase, almost doubling what it previously charged when selling tickets for passengers on its spaceplane, VSS Unity.
The new $450,000 tickets for the ultimate ride are twice the $200,000-$250,000 approximately 600 people shelled out to secure a spot on Virgin's spacecraft over a nine-year stretch from 2005 to 2014.
Here's more about the price hike from the AFP:
"We are excited to announce the reopening of sales effective today," said CEO Michael Colglazier in a statement, with first dibs going to people on a waiting list.
"As we endeavor to bring the wonder of space to a broad global population, we are delighted to open the door to an entirely new industry and consumer experience.
"On July 11, Branson beat Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos to space in a battle between the billionaires. Bezos achieved the feat nine days later.
Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity, the AFP reports, is set to fly again in September 2021 and will carry members of the Italian Air Force up to the edge of space. At least one more flight will follow that before ticketed, commercial rides begin launching in the latter part of 2022.
And here's what the new nearly half-million-dollar price gets anyone willing to pony up, according to the AFP: "a single seat."
If you understand that the Virgin experience appears to be flying just high enough to experience weightlessness before fairly quickly returning to the spaceport, that sounds, perhaps, a little weak for so much money. But Virgin will also offer packages that include "multi-seats for couples, friends or family; and a full-flight buyout."
If you're willing to take the gamble, registrations for two guest spots on future flights remain open through September 1. Winners of those free spots as well as paying customers will be inside the VSS Unity when it takes off from Virgin's New Mexico spaceport, attached to a much larger conventional aircraft.
Once at the proper altitude, Unity drops from the belly of its mothership, fires its rockets and soars up to more than 50 miles above the Earth. That's where atmospheric friction begins to recede and gravity falls away, allowing passengers to float around for a bit before heading back to Earth.
Expensive as that relatively limited experience might seem, it's still an extremely rare opportunity. If it sounds like your choice for the next big adventure, register here: VirginGalactic.com/register.