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Shares of Virgin Galactic (SPCE) climbed about 28.50% during pre-market trading after the announcement and reached the level of $55.50.
Jeff Bezos has some serious competition in the space race. Spaceflight company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) on Thursday announced that its next test space flight will be on July 11. The flight will carry the company’s founder Sir Richard Branson and crew. This puts Branson ahead of outgoing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who plans to launch on July 20 with his Blue Origin company.
The company, a subsidiary of the Virgin Group was founded in 2004 and has been conducting research for about a decade and a half.
“I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good. It’s one thing to have a dream of making space more accessible to all; it’s another for an incredible team to collectively turn that dream into reality. As part of a remarkable crew of mission specialists, I’m honoured to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin,” Branson said.
The test flight is scheduled for 6 AM Pacific time. Besides Branson, it will be carrying a full crew consisting of two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci and three specialists. The three specialists are Chief Astronaut instructor Beth Moses who will be in charge of the flight; Lead Operations Engineer Colin Bennett who will monitor cabin equipment and procedures and Sirisha Bandla, VP of Government Affairs and Research Operations will be on-board conducting an experiment on microgravity for the University of Florida. It will launch from new Mexico and will be live-streamed on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Shares of Virgin Galactic (SPCE) climbed about 28.50% during pre-market trading after the flight announcement and reached the level of $55.50.
The space tourism company is hoping to commence flying out paying passengers early next year. It announced on June 25 that it had gained approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to carry passengers on spaceflights.
Virgin Space Ship Unity (VSS Unity) will launch from a carrier aircraft after which it will then accelerate to more than three times the speed of sound, spend some minutes in space before drifting back to earth.
If the launch is successful, it will be nine days ahead of fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard rocket’s flight. Bezos is expected to fly into space on July 20 with his brother, 82-year-old aerospace legend Wally Funk and the winner of a $28M public auction ticket.