Private space tourism company Virgin Galactic said it is gearing up to sell tickets to space again, and that it has witnessed skyrocketing demand for trips off of this planet.
The company says it has already taken in more than 600 reservations from "Future Astronaut customers" in 60 countries.
Moreover, it has received nearly 8,000 online reservation of interest registrations in a little over a year -- more than double what it reported in Sept. 2019.
Virgin Galactic was forced to stop selling spaceflight tickets after its first test flight in late 2018, but said Wednesday it will reopen sales through a "One Small Step" qualification process for "those who are serious about flying to space."
The One Small Step registration process asks future passengers to put down a refundable $1,000 deposit and register online. When new seats are released by the company, they will be offered first to the One Small Step participants, who will be invited to "make the One Giant Leap to a confirmed spaceflight reservation," according to a statement on the company's website.
Stephen Attenborough, Virgin Galactic’s commercial director, said they have been "greatly encouraged by the ongoing and increasing demand seen from around the world for personal spaceflight."
The One Small Step initiative "allows us to help qualify and build confidence in our direct sales pipeline, as well as to ensure that those who are most keen to make reservations, are able to do so at the earliest opportunity," he added.
The company has not yet announced the exact cost or timing of when the next set of seats will be released. Tickets for the initial round of seats were sold for $250,000.
Virgin Galactic has previously said it expects to send its first private space tourists this year.
Late last year, the company debuted its spacesuits "for the masses" for its astronaut customers to don, in a partnership with sportswear company Under Armour.
In January, the company said its sleek new commercial spacecraft had passed its structural "weight on wheels" milestone -- a test in which the spacecraft was able to successfully deploy its main landing gear and carry its own weight for the first time, according to Virgin Galactic.