Virgin Galactic is preparing to become a publicly traded company later this year, which would make it the first human spaceflight venture to do so. Richard Branson's space tourism company will merge with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, giving the special-purpose acquisition company a 49% stake, it said in a release Tuesday.
"We are at the dawn of a new space age, with huge potential to improve and sustain life on Earth," Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson said in the release. "I am delighted that SCH has decided to become such an important part of our amazing journey."
Chamath Palihapitiya, SCH's founder, hailed Branson as "a once-in-a-generation visionary" and said Virgin Galactic is "light years ahead of the competition."
The news comes nearly two months afterto New Mexico's Spaceport America. At the time, Branson said he hopes to take his first flight to space aboard one of Virgin's vehicles by the end of 2019. It hasn't been an easy road getting here: The company has seen some major setbacks, like a .
The companies expect the merger to be completed before the end of the year.
First published at 2:39 a.m. PT.
Updated at 3:45 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.