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Virgin Galactic Gets Closer To Obtaining FAA License, Prepares To Reveal Spacecraft Cabin

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Virgin Galactic Gets Closer To Obtaining FAA License, Prepares To Reveal Spacecraft Cabin

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) is likely to clear regulatory hurdles after it passes the remainder of the milestones set by the Federal Aviation Administration in upcoming rocket flights.

What Happened

Virgin Galactic has already cleared 24 of the FAA’s 29 milestones. However, the company has its own objectives, which include flying four of its employees to space as passengers along with the two employees who pilot its spacecraft. 

The beginning of the commercial service will be marked by Branson flying to space on board Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft, but there is no clarity on how many test flights will be required before that happens. 

Why It Matters

Last week, Virgin Galactic announced the successful competition of the second test flight of its SpaceShip Two in New Mexico. The glide flight carried two commercial astronauts. 

Vertical Research Partners analyst, Darryl Genovesi, told investors that Virgin Galactic’s next milestone would be the reveal of its spacecraft’s cabin, which will occur “sooner rather than later in the summer.” The company is expected to resume its rocket flights after the reveal, reported CNBC.

Virgin Galactic is exploring flying NASA astronauts and researchers into space in addition to more than 600 paying space tourists. 

Genovesi’s firm estimates that NASA, along with others, could “send 100-200 people up annually on Virgin Galactic metal under this contract framework.” 

The analyst expects that flying personnel of NASA and others could work out to be an average $50-100 million annual opportunity for Virgin Galactic. 

Vertical Research Partners is holding on to its buy rating on Virgin Galactic shares with a $29 price target. 

Price Action

Virgin Galactic shares traded 2.45% higher at $16.74 in the after-hours session on Tuesday. The shares had closed the regular Friday session 5.97% higher at $16.34.

Image: Virgin Galactic

 

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