There's a really nice article in December's Wired Magazine that challenges whether Virgin's venture into near-space travel has any relevance to the world today. Effectively asking whether it is relevant innovation.
With tickets costing $200,000 each Virgin Galactic is definitely a luxury, but is it relevant innovation?
I am guessing yes, but in the long-term way that the early passenger flights by Imperial Airways and the Pan Am Clippers that were only relevant to a very wealthy few, opened up air travel for the great majority of us 20 – 30 years later.
Whilst Virgin Galactic's innovation value is likely to be marginal at best, its value as a positioning tool is likely to be be enormous.
Assuming Branson manages to get his millionaire passengers safely into space and subsequently manages to get them safely down again, the brand halo onto Virgin Atlantic and his other airline businesses is likely to be enormously positive.
After all, who would you rather fly with … BA who last went supersonic almost a decade ago, or an airline who are putting passengers into space on a regular basis?