LONDON—Virgin Galactic is seeking a PR agency to help it build broader support for its ambitious space tourism plans.

The move comes as the company faces claims that the initiative, scheduled to launch this autumn, may turn into a costly 'white elephant'. In a new biography of Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson, Tom Bower argues that Virgin Galactic has neither the rocket power nor regulator approval to begin flights into space.      

The Holmes Report understands that agencies have been briefed for an assignment that covers the UK, where much of the unit's management is based, and the US, where Virgin Galactic is testing its rockets.

To date, Virgin Galactic has received more than £42m in deposits from 580 individuals, although the launch date has been pushed back repeatedly for the past five years.

Virgin Galactic spokespersons declined to comment.