Virgin Galactic Signs 500th Customer

Mojave-based Virgin Galactic, the commercial spaceflight firm backed by Sir Richard Branson, has signed its 500th customer: actor and angel investor Ashton Kutcher. The company--which has yet to launch its first customer into space--has been developing a custom spaceship designed to send "space tourists" into space from a commercial spaceport in New Mexico. Virgin Galactic just hired its first pilot in October, and is in the midst of building and testing its vehicles before commencing operations. Branson announced Ashton Kutcher as the 500th customer on his blog Monday. Virgin Galactic has not yet set a first launch date, however, the firm is planning to start commercial operations sometime next year. Tickets on the spacecraft go for $200,000.