The stock market was having a strong morning on Tuesday, with all three major averages up by 1% or more shortly after the opening bell. But space tourism company Virgin Galactic (SPCE -1.67%) was a major outperformer. At 9:40 a.m. EST, shares were up by more than 12% for the day.
The reason for the move is that Virgin Galactic announced that it will open ticket sales for its spaceflights to the general public on Feb. 16. The flights cost $450,000 per person and require an initial deposit of $150,000 to secure a spot.
These flights consist of a 90-minute journey, including the launch and boost into space. Virgin Galactic also said that it plans to have its first 1,000 customers on board to start its commercial service later in 2022.
It has been a while since Virgin Galactic gave its investors much to smile about. And since founder Richard Branson took his flight into space on July 11, Virgin Galactic's share price is down by 81%, even after today's move.
However, this is certainly positive news. Until now, Virgin Galactic has essentially been a pre-revenue business, and 1,000 customers paying $450,000 each translates into $450 million of actual revenue for the business. If the company can hit that target before the end of 2022, in its first year of commercial operations, it would go a long way toward convincing investors that this could turn into a viable, profitable business model over the long term. But that remains a big if at this point.