Virgin Galactic opens public sale of space flights for NZ$672,000 per ticket

Virgin Galactic's space planes
Those on board the VSS Unity will experience a 90 minute flight. Photo credit: Supplied / Virgin Galactic

New Zealanders who crave a space adventure can now register for tickets - providing they can afford to spend at least NZ$672,000 for the privilege.

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has reopened sales to the general public, with flight bookings also conferring membership of the company's 'Future Astronaut' community.

"At Virgin Galactic, we believe that space is transformational," Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said.

"We plan to have our first 1000 customers on board at the start of commercial service later this year, providing an incredibly strong foundation as we begin regular operations and scale our fleet."

Those customers are all paying a small fortune for the chance to experience a 90-minute journey in the company's VSS Unity space plane.

The VSS Unity is taken to an altitude of over 15,000m by another aircraft which then drops it, allowing the space plane to fly to suborbital space using its own power.

Those on board will experience Mach 3 during the boost to space, which can take them to around 86km above the surface of the planet.

Astronauts will enjoy "several minutes" of out-of-seat weightlessness during the flight, and be able to see the Earth from 17 windows on the VSS Unity plane.

Flights will be launched from Spaceport America in New Mexico, with all astronauts getting several days of "spaceflight preparedness activities" to prepare themselves for the experience.

The Future Astronaut community gives members access to what the company said was "money-can't-buy experiences" as well as events, trips and activities to help prepare the ticket holders for their flight.

The good news for anyone that doesn't have a spare $672,000 sitting around is that a deposit of just $225,000 will earn you a spot on a future flight.

Final payment is required before launch. Those interested can register on the Virgin Galactic website, with the company emailing an application form to those who want to make a reservation.

The company had previously briefly opened up flight tickets to the general public, shortly after Branson flew into sub-orbital space in July.

Branson beat his fellow space billionaire Jeff Bezos into space, with the Amazon and Blue Origin founder flying just a few days after.

Elon Musk's SpaceX company has also sent tourists to space, but the controversial Musk hasn't yet flown onboard himself, despite his infamous interest in colonising Mars.