Virgin Galactic Unveils Spacesuits as IPO Nears

On Wednesday, Under Armour UAA unveiled the spacesuits it is making for people to wear during trips with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceflight company. The two companies are collaborating on a full line of space wear, which they claim is the first collection “created specifically for private astronauts.”

The collaboration between the two companies comes as Virgin Galactic nears its potential public listing. The company’s cofounder and billionaire, Richard Branson, commented that once the company begins to fly regularly, they will look to branch out their operations all over the world.

Company Overview

Virgin Galactic is a spaceflight company within the Virgin Group. It is developing commercial spacecraft and aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists and suborbital launches for space science missions.

Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft can carry as many as six passengers, along with the two pilots, to the edge of space. The spaceship is dropped from a jet-powered aircraft and fires a rocket motor, reaching over three times the speed of sound as it climbs though the Earth’s atmosphere. Then the spacecraft and its passengers float weightless for a few minutes, before gliding back down to land on Earth much like a traditional aircraft. A ticket for a Virgin Galactic flight goes for about $250,000 per person, and the company has a list of 603 customers waiting to fly.

Virgin Galactic is preparing to become the first human spaceflight company to go public. Through a merger announced in July with Social Capital Hedosophia, a special-purpose acquisition company, Virgin Galactic is planning to list on the New York Stock Exchange. The company originally planned on listing themselves in the public market later in the fourth quarter of 2019, but Branson hinted that an IPO may be coming sooner than expected.

Market Potential

A lengthy UBS Group UBS report published in March found that in a decade, high speed travel via outer space will represent an annual market of at least $20 billion and compete with long-distance airline flights. This would bode well for companies like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin, who are leading the effort to make space tourism a reality.

UBS analysts Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton wrote in a note that “While space tourism is still at a nascent phase, we think that as technology becomes proven, and the cost falls due to technology and competition, space tourism will become more mainstream.” Richard Branson stated that several international markets are interested in the development of a space station such as Abu Dhabi, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Australia.  Not only are these companies trying to trailblaze the space tourism industry, they are also trying to revolutionize long distance travel.

SpaceX is attempting to revolutionize air travel through the massive Starship rocket they are developing, which would be able to fly 100 people around the world in minutes. The Starship rocket is said to be able to fly from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes, rather than the 15 hours it takes with traditional airplanes.

Bottom Line

It seems like the next generation of human travel is developing before our very own eyes. The potential public listing of one of these innovative and futuristic companies makes things all the more exciting for eager investors.

The positive response Virgin Galactic received from international markets is a welcoming sight for the company and investors who are eying the company’s IPO. Additionally, Under Armour’s decision to partner with Virgin Galactic as their official apparel provider shows the confidence Under Armour has in the company’s potential.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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