Elon Musk bought ticket for Virgin Galactic spaceflight back in 2006

The SpaceX billionaire - now a major Virgin rival - was among the first 600 people to buy his place in space

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SpaceX founder Elon Musk will be going to space one day on a Virgin Galactic rocket, with a ticket he purchased in 2006.

The billionaire, who has his own line of space rockets, was among the first 600 people who bought tickets from Virgin Galactic.

The ticket will cost the equivalent of nearly Dh1 million ($272,000).

Elon Musk has a Galactic ticket. I know because I sold it to him
Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic president (2004-2010)

On July 11, the first fully crewed Virgin Galactic flight successfully reached the edge of space, with the company’s founder Richard Branson on board the VSS Unity space plane.

The flight helped the British billionaire beat rival Jeff Bezos, who will fly to space on July 20 on a Blue Origin rocket.

“Elon Musk has a Galactic ticket. I know because I sold it to him,” Will Whitehorn, who served as president of Virgin Galactic from 2004 to 2010, told Forbes.

Video: Virgin Galactic first test flight

Video: Virgin Galactic first test flight

Mr Musk paid a Dh36,700 deposit for the ticket, which was priced at Dh735,000 back then, and now costs Dh184,000 more.

He secured the ticket four years after he founded SpaceX, a private company that has transformed space travel with reusable rockets.

Ahead of the flight on Sunday, the South African billionaire visited Mr Branson to wish him luck.

Mr Branson achieved his lifelong dream of going to space when he tested the private astronaut experience and said he made several notes on improvement during the 90-minute journey.

“To you all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now, I’m an adult in a spaceship with lots of other wonderful adults, looking down to our beautiful Earth,” Mr Branson said mid-flight.

“To the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you can do.”

The flight took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, after being delayed 90 minutes because of overnight weather.

Carrier jet VMS Eve, named after Mr Branson’s mother, released the VSS Unity space plane at an altitude of about 15,240 metres.

The space plane then climbed to its target altitude of 86 kilometres, where the pilots and crew experienced four minutes of weightlessness.

“There are no words to describe the feeling. This is space travel. This is a dream turned reality,” Mr Branson said.

The flight marked a key milestone for the space tourism industry, a commercial market that would give easier access to space to those who are not part of a government-led space programme.

There were plans announced previously to bring down the cost of the ticket as demand increases.

Virgin Galactic had also announced plans of opening spaceports in different parts of the world.

An agreement between Abu Dhabi Airports and Virgin Galactic was signed in 2019 to build a spaceport at Al Ain Airport.

Richard Branson through the years - in pictures

Updated: July 13, 2021, 9:39 AM