Virgin Galactic Scores FAA Approval To Take Passengers Into Space

Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. SPCE has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly passengers into space.

What Happened: In updating the company’s 2016 commercial space transportation operator license, the FAA made history in its first licensing approval for a spaceline to carry customers in flight.

The company said the updated license followed the analysis of data from a May 22 space flight of its VMS Eve and VSS Unity, which was its third crewed spaceflight and the first to launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico. The flight achieved a speed of Mach 3 and reached space at an altitude of 55.5 miles, the company added.

“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of our most recent test flight, which achieved our stated flight test objectives,” said Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic. “The flight performed flawlessly, and the results demonstrate the safety and elegance of our flight system.

“Today’s approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer.”

The company is planning for three test flights. No schedule was announced for possible passenger flights.

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Why It Matters: Virgin Galactic is the latest company advocating for commercial passenger excursions into space.

Earlier this month, Amazon.com AMZN Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced he would be among the passengers in a July 20 excursion by his Blue Space company that will travel from Texas to the edge of outer space and back.

And the privately-owned Florida-based Space Perspective is seeking reservations for the 2024 liftoff via Spaceship Neptune, a hydrogen-supported 650-foot-tall balloon that will carry a passenger capsule above the Earth’s atmosphere.

SPCE Price Action: Virgin Galactic rose by 12% in premarket trading after the announcement. The stock closed Thursday at $40.26, sandwiched between its 52-week high of $62.80 and its 52-week low of $14.27.

Photo: Land Rover Mena / Flickr Creative Commons.

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Posted In: NewsTravelGlobalTop StoriesGeneralFederal Aviation AdministrationJeff BezosSpace PerspectiveSpace Travel
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