The Virgin Galactic spacecraft outside of Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, outlined his long-term goals for the space tourism company on Thursday and said he sees up to $ 1 billion in annual revenue per spaceport in the coming years.
"Virgin Galactic's first chapter was doing an incredibly difficult task and creating a space system that could fly humans into space," said Colglazier as he discussed the company's third quarter results on a conference call. "The next chapter of Virgin Galactic is to use this system to put thousands upon thousands of people into space and serve our purpose of opening up space to change the world forever. To achieve that goal "We make multi-year efforts will not result in flights once a month or even once a week – but aims to fly 400 flights per year per spaceport."
A daily launch pace is still years away for Virgin Galactic as the company works to complete development of its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. So far, the company has conducted two space flights – one in December 2018 and one in February 2019 – and plans to do two more test flights into space in the coming months before founder Richard Branson flies.
In addition, Colglazier noted that to make 400 flights a year would require multiple spaceships to be deployed in Virgin Galactic's fleet. The company currently has a test unit, Spacecraft Unity, and expects to complete the manufacture and launch of its second spacecraft in the first quarter of 2021. Colglazier pointed out that Virgin Galactic's second and later starship has been updated to provide "better turnaround time" between flights and that they have a more "modular" design to improve inspection and maintenance efficiency.
It is working on a third spacecraft, and Virgin Galactic in a regulatory filing on Thursday estimated that the second and third spacecraft would cost between $ 35 and 55 million to complete.
Also, due to Virgin Galactic's air launch approach to space travel – it uses a jet-powered carrier aircraft to raise the spacecraft to an altitude of approximately 45,000 feet for launch – Colglazier also noted that the company will need "multiple mother ships" in a spaceport at one flight rate of 400 per year. The company says it is "in the early planning stages to develop and build a second carrier aircraft".
"To be able to pivot now to meet the expected demand, we need to ramp up production in this regard. But I think it will be on the order of a few motherships, many spaceships and … one rocket motor for every flight we do fly, "said Colglazier.
Given that each spaceship can carry up to six passengers, UBS analyst Myles Walton stressed in a statement to investors on Friday that annual sales of US $ 1 billion and 400 flights per year mean a ticket price of around US $ 400,000 Dollar mean. The company previously sold about 600 tickets, most of which were reserved at prices between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000. Virgin Galactic has not yet confirmed how much tickets will cost when sales reopen, but management has indicated that the price is higher than previously expected due to significant demand.
Virgin Galactic's Unity spacecraft lands for landing in New Mexico on June 25, 2020 after a flight test.
Virgin Galactic is working to launch commercial flights from Spaceport America in New Mexico. However, the company's leadership has held talks with other countries to establish additional spaceports around the world, including Abu Dhabi, Italy, the UK, Australia and Sweden.
"I am very optimistic about the transformational experience we are looking to deliver and the price points we believe we can get for this unique, limited product," said Colglazier.
Subscribe to CNBC PRO for exclusive insights and analysis as well as live business day programs from around the world.