Virgin Galactic to begin ticket sales for space flights

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Aug 5 - Spaceship company Virgin Galactic said on Thursday it will begin ticket sales for space flights starting at $450,000 a seat, weeks after billionaire Richard Branson's high profile trip to the edge of space.

Branson soared more than 50 miles above the New Mexico desert aboard a Virgin Galactic rocket plane on July 11 and safely returned in the vehicle's first full-fledged test flight to space, a symbolic milestone for a venture launched 17 years ago.

Shares of the company rose 5% in extended trading on Thursday.

In June, Virgin Galactic received approval from the U.S. aviation safety regulator to fly people to space.

The company said it will have three consumer offerings - a single seat, a multi-seat package and a full-flight buy out.

Sales will initially be open to the company's significant list of early hand-raisers, it said.