XCOR To Raise Ticket Prices for Suborbital Flights

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — XCOR Aerospace, a company developing a two-seat suborbital spaceplane for tourism and research applications, plans to raise its ticket prices by 50 percent next year, the company announced July 16.

The company, currently based in Mojave, California, but in the process of moving to Midland, Texas, said that the price of tickets for flights on its Lynx vehicle will increase from $100,000 to $150,000 effective Jan. 1, 2016.

“With the Lynx Mark I spacecraft closer to completion and first flight, the price will be raised to align more closely with the current market value of a commercial spaceflight,” said XCOR Space Expeditions, the Amsterdam-based subsidiary of XCOR Aerospace that serves as the sales office for Lynx tickets.

In an interview during the NewSpace 2015 conference here July 17, XCOR President and Chief Executive Jay Gibson said the decision to raise ticket prices was not linked to any financial issues at the company. “It was not that we needed to raise more money,” he said. “This was not financially driven, but instead market driven.”

The company said it has sold more than 300 tickets, and Gibson believes the price increase would not diminish demand. “There is a market established for these tickets,” he said.

XCOR first announced plans to develop the Lynx in 2008. The vehicle is designed to take off from a runway under rocket power, ascend to an altitude of 100 kilometers, and glide back to a runway landing. The vehicle accommodates two people, one of whom is the pilot.

Development of Lynx has taken much longer than XCOR originally anticipated, but the company believes that its Mark I vehicle, the prototype for the Mark II vehicle it will use on commercial flights, is nearing completion. Jeff Greason, XCOR chairman and chief technology officer, said a conference in May that the last major component of the Lynx prototype to be completed is the vehicle’s wings. He expected the wings, being fabricated by an outside vendor, to be delivered in the fall.

XCOR is not the first suborbital company to raise ticket prices before beginning commercial service. Virgin Galactic started selling tickets in 2005 at $200,000 each. However, in 2013 the company announced it was increasing the ticket price to $250,000, citing the need to keep pace with inflation. Moreover, while Virgin Galactic customers initially could pay a deposit as small as 10 percent of the full ticket price, the company now requires full payment up front.

Blue Origin, which plans to fly people on suborbital flights of its New Shepard vehicle, has not disclosed pricing for those flights. The company only recently added a form to its website to collect information from those interested in “early access to pricing information and tickets” when the company starts accepting reservations.