Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will be the first publicly traded company for human spaceflight

The race to become the first publicly traded company dedicated to human spaceflight is over, and Virgin Galactic has won.

The company will be listing its shares on the New York Stock Exchange through a minority acquisition made by Social Capital Hedosophia, the special purpose acquisition company created by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya as part of his exploration of alternative strategies to venture capital investing as the head of Social Capital — according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Social Capital to take startups public without an IPO

Formed with a $600 million commitment roughly two years ago, SPAC is expected to make an $800 million commitment to Virgin Galactic, according to the Journal’s reporting.

Unlike other launch companies, like Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Virgin Galactic has focused on suborbital launches for conducting experiments and taking tourists up to space. SpaceX is investing more heavily in the development of launch capabilities for lunar and interplanetary travel — and commercial applications like internet connectivity via satellite.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin also reportedly has plans for space tourism while pursuing several commercial and government launch contracts (and a lunar lander).

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