Virgin Galactic has received clearance from the US aviation industry regulatory agency, the FAA, to begin tourist space flights, it said on Friday. In doing so, the company of British billionaire Richard Branson is increasing the pressure on its competitors in the nascent and expensive space tourism sector.
The company’s stock price jumped nearly 40% to US $ 56.40, the highest point since February, after more than doubling this year.
This approval granted by the FEWcomes at a critical time for Branson, as his company faces competition from Blue Origin, from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and SpaceX, from Elon Musk.
MM. Branson, Bezos, and Musk have all invested billions of dollars in their respective businesses.
The British billionaire, who is said to fly into space himself to beat rival Jeff Bezos, was given the green light just a month after a successful test flight.
In May, Virgin completed its first manned space flight from its home port in New Mexico, while its SpaceShipTwo, which can carry six passengers, landed without problems with its two pilots on board. .
The company claims to have secured more than 600 reservations for its 90-minute flights which include several minutes spent in zero gravity, all for the modest sum of US $ 250,000 per ticket.
Today’s approval by the FEWgives us confidence as we approach our first fully crewed test flight, scheduled for this summer, Virgin Galactic boss Michael Colglazier said in a statement.