Bitcoins Can Now Buy A Trip To Space

Image via Virgin Galactic

When it comes to commercial space flight company Virgin Galactic, no one really expects it to fit a certain mold. Now the company is in the news again, not for its upcoming space travel but for its payment options.

Founder Richard Branson announced today that Virgin Galactic will now be accepting bitcoins as payment. In fact, Branson stated in his announcement that one person has already purchased her ticket to space using the virtual currency, and that he expects many more people to follow suit.

His announcement draws parallels between the revolutionary travel company and the international virtual currency, implying a natural partnership. Branson writes, “While the world of travel is rapidly advancing, the world of payments is changing fast too.” And there’s no denying it: both ideas have been making waves.

A Ticket To Space: Virgin Galactic’s Promise

Virgin Galactic, part of Branson’s hugely successful Virgin Group, promises to take paying customers on a suborbital space flight.

The Virgin Galactic site explains that passengers will have two or three days of training leading up to the flight. When the trip begins, passengers will travel close to 2,500 mph – more than three times the speed of sound – to reach an elevation of 50,000 feet. After an unspecified length of time to enjoy the view of of the planet and the feeling of no gravity, passengers will return to the ground.

The revolutionary company has accepted payment and reservations since 2005 and expects its first official flight to occur next year. Of course, the experience wouldn’t be complete without a hefty price tag. A seat currently costs $250,000.  As of this writing, that equates to 328.5 bitcoins.

The Value Of A Bitcoin

A bitcoin is, in essence, digital currency that doesn’t require a bank to transfer from person to person. The entire technology of a bitcoin is based on peer-to-peer open-source software (unlike bank software, as you know).

This currency is entirely separate from any other and its worth can fluctuate like any other. And fluctuate it does! One bitcoin, worth just $0.30 at the beginning of 2011, is worth about $753 as of this writing. The massive difference is a result of rapidly increasing popularity.

Branson argues that there’s a lot of overlap between people interested in bitcoins and those interested in Virgin Galactic. He himself uses the currency.

Virgin Galactic is a company looking into the future, so is Bitcoin,” he wrote. “So it makes sense we would offer Bitcoin as a way to pay for your journey to space. A lot of the people who have joined Bitcoin are tech-minded people, as are many of our current future astronauts.”