Virgin Galactic wins FAA approval for customer spaceflight

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Virgin Galactic

One of the best-performing stocks just prior to the weekend was one of the most closely watched space companies on the market. While most investors cant invest in Bezos’ Blue Origins or Musk’s SpaceX, many investors have been following Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic (NASDAQ: SPCE) for some time now as an alternative way to play this sector. Shares skyrocketed after the company won approval to begin its commercial flights into space.

The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) said that Virgin Galactic would be allowed to carry commercial passengers into space, a massive milestone for the still fledgling space company. The FAA had originally given a license back in 2016, but the original stipulations surrounding what could be considered “participants” in future flights were quite limited.

The commercial license that we have had in place since 2016 remains in place, but is now cleared to allow us to carry commercial passengers when we’re ready to do so,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier in a CNBC interview. “This is obviously an exciting milestone and a huge compliment to the team.”

Virgin Galactic’s current spacecraft, Unity, is designed to hold up to six passengers in addition to two pilots. Despite the potential dangers and difficulties involved in taking passengers to the outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, Virgin Galactic has already reserved more than 600 future flight tickets, with a price tag of around $250,000 each.

Although flights are expected to take place in the future, Virgin Galactic won’t be the first company to put people into space commercially. Blue Origin is planning to begin its first launch on July 20, with Virgin Galactic founder Russel Brunson said that he would be among the first passengers to fly on Blue Origin’s upcoming flight.

Up until this point, Virgin has performed three piloted test flights to date. Two of these were just with the craft’s pilots, and the third flight included the company’s astronaut trainer. Virgin Galactic had initially promised flights to take place in 2020, but that planned date has been pushed back to 2022.

Shares were up 38.9% on Friday following the news, with further gains of around 7% coming in after-hours trading. In Virgin Galactic’s history as a publicly traded company, it’s the best single day jump in stock price ever. Virgin Galactic initially plummeted to as low as $15 earlier this year before rebounding to over $55 per share. While it’s been a difficult year for the company, Virgin Galactic has benefited impressively from being a proxy investment for space-eager investors that can’t access other big names in the sector, like SpaceX and Blue Origins.

 

Virgin Galactic Company Profile

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc is a United States-based vertically-integrated aerospace company pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals & researchers, and it also manufactures advanced air and space vehicles. Using its technologies, it is developing a spaceflight system designed to offer its customers a unique, multi-day, and transformative experience. This culminates in a spaceflight that includes views of Earth from space and several minutes of weightlessness that will launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico. – Warrior Trading News

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