Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is set to become the first publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company. It could go public as soon as Monday, the company announced today.
Galactic is merging with Social Capital Hedosophia, a special purpose acquisition company, under a deal approved by SCH shareholders on Wednesday, according to SEC filings. The deal will give SCH a 49% stake in Galactic.
Though the companies said they have no guarantees, they expect the deal to close Friday and for the new company to start trading on thew New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SPCE on Monday.
SCH shares were up 3% Thursday morning.
The move will make Galactic, the “first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company,” SCH and Galactic said in a joint statement when they announced merger plans in July.
The management team of Galactic, which is debt free, will stay in place after the merger, and existing investors in Galactic are being offered a combination of SCH stock and cash. Galactic’s primary backers are Branson and his own Virgin Group, a UK-based investment and branding company that functions as his private wealth management firm.
Galactic could be only months away from its first commercial space flight, according to Branson. The company is racing against Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to be the first to send paying passengers to space.
About 600 people have already have reserved tickets on a Virgin Galactic at prices up to $250,000 apiece. Passengers, outfitted in specially designed spacesuits by Under Armour, will hurtle in a rocket-powered space plane to more than 50 miles into the atmosphere. At the peak of the flight, customers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and can peer out the plane’s windows at Earth’s curved horizon and the blackness of outer space.
The startup has notched successful demonstration flights of its rocket-powered space plane called SpaceShipTwo. Test flights in December and February closely mimicked the flight path its commercial missions will take. The plane is designed to carry two pilots and up to six passengers.
Branson is expected to be among the first passengers aboard a SpaceShipTwo flight.