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Branson's Virgin Galactic to sell space flight tickets starting at $450,000

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Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson wears his astronaut's wings at a news conference at Spaceport America
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(Reuters) - Spaceship company Virgin Galactic said it will open ticket sales on Thursday for space flights starting at $450,000 a seat, weeks after billionaire founder 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 fully crewed test flight to space, a symbolic milestone for a venture he started 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 open to the company's significant list of "early hand-raisers", it said.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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