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Virgin Galactic (SPCE) stock continues growing as the company is getting closer to the commercial spaceflights. Now they are conducting gliding tests to gather data about systems and performance.
Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) has become a step closer to conducting commercial spaceflights. On Thursday, the company successfully completed its second glide flight test in New Mexico. Following the announcement, Virgin Galactic stock rose after hours and continues its growth in the pre-market.
Virgin Galactic is now conducting a gliding testing of Unity, a SpaceShipTwo-class spaceplane. Gliding allows the pilots to gather data about systems and performance that help them with rocket-powered flights to come. The first test flight took place on May 1. The second one was completed on Thursday. The carrier plane Eve took off with Unity in tow and released it at an altitude of 51,000 feet. After that, it glided home at a speed of 650 miles per hour.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said:
“I am thrilled with the team’s hard work to complete today’s test flight successfully. It was an important test that, pending data review, means we can now start preparing the vehicles for powered flight.”
“Our focus for this year remains unchanged on ensuring the vehicles and our operations are prepared for long-term, regular commercial spaceflight service.”
The pilots who were on SpaceShipTwo Unity’s flight deck were Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Michael ‘Sooch’ Masucci. Both are commercial astronauts, each of them has already had the experience of flights on Unity.
Last weekend, Virgin Galactic also completed a “wet dress rehearsal” of its systems and facilities. The process included fueling up spacecraft Unity on the runway.
Waiting List for Spaceflights
Ultimately, Virgin Galactic aims to provide 90-minute trips to the edge of space in a craft like Unity that can carry six space tourists at once.
Over 600 customers from around the world have already bought tickets to experience a flight to space and get a terrific view of the Earth below. The suborbital flights will reach an altitude of at least 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) before gliding to a landing. Besides, more than 9,100 people have registered their interest online. Company officials expect the interest to surpass the company’s capacity for flights for a few years.
Recently, Virgin Galactic signed a deal with NASA that will allow the space tourism venture to train astronauts for trips to the International Space Station.
Virgin Galactic (SPCE) Stock Jumps in Early Trading
On Thursday, Virgin Galactic stock closed 1.61% down at $15.25 per share. But as soon as the company came with the news, its stock started rising after hours. It soared by 4.92% to $16.00. In early trading today, Virgin Galactic shares went further up. By the moment of writing, SPCE stock has added 8.20% to trade at $16.50.
Virgin Galactic market cap totals $3.26 billion.