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Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is reported to be planning an IPO before the end of the year, to become the first space tourism business to list publicly.

The move will look to provide the business with additional capital to take on space rivals in the form of Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Virgin Galactic is expected to list its shares as part of merger with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, which will reportedly invest $800m in the business for a 49% stake. The combined business is expected to be valued at $1.5bn.

Launched in 2004, Virgin Galactic aims to provide suborbital space flights for tourists, with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio among those to have paid deposits for the first flights.