Virgin Galactic has received approval to fly people to space, the spaceship company announced on Friday. The announcement, made by billionaire Richard Branson’s company, now puts pressure on rival companies in the nascent and expensive space tourism sector.
The approval to fly to space, from the US’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has come when Virgin Galactic’s space venture faces off against Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s Space X.
“Today’s approval by the FAA … gives us confidence, as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer,” Virgin Galactic Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier, said in a statement, Reuters reported.
Also Read | Out of the world. Virgin Galactic to send TikToker into space for research
All three founders have invested billions of dollars in their rocket startups. Virgin Galactic’s value increased more than double this year and its shares have surged as much as 40% to $56.40.
After the announcement, the company’s stock on Friday posted its biggest one-day gain in nearly five months.
Also Read | One small step for cephalopods: SpaceX takes squids, tardigrades to ISS
Richard Branson’s company got the approval a month after a successful test flight from Virgin Galactic’s new homeport in New Mexico. The company’s SpaceShipTwo craft, with a capacity of six passengers, in May, made a safe landing with its two pilots.
For its 90-minutes flights including several minutes of weightlessness, Virgin Galactic has over 600 reservations, with tickets priced at $250,000 each, the company said.