Virgin Galactic announced on Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had granted company the license it needs to carry passengers on future space flights while the company completes first-hand development testing. After the announcement, the company’s shares have soared to a rising rate of 38.9% this Friday, being its biggest rise in a single day to close at $ 55.91 per share.
The FAA had granted millionaire Richard Branson’s company with a launch license to fly to the edge of space. Virgin Galactic is completing a validation program, and at the end of the month of May 2021, the Unity spacecraft made its first flight, which experienced microgravity upon reaching the edge of space. After reaching the extremes of the space, it then returned to the atmosphere and landed on the company’s headquarters runway at Spaceport America in Nuevo, Mexico.
So far, five company employees, including four pilots, have become FAA-recognized astronauts after flying at an altitude of 50 miles, about 80 kilometers which is the limit of space. Virgin Galactic’s Unity spacecraft is formed and designed with a capacity to hold up to six passengers along with the two pilots. The company already has 600 bookings so far for future flights that will sell between the sum of $ 200,000 and $ 250,000 each.
Virgin Galactic has clearly set its goal to offer its future astronauts an efficient, hassle-free, safe, and affordable journey to space without having any kind of special prior experience or significant prior training and preparation.
In the previous two years, the company carried out three tests of flights to the edge of space and still has another three to complete its development, which will be done in the coming future. Virgin Galactic announced that during its next test, it would take four passengers to test the cabin of the ship, another flight will have the presence of its founder Richard Branson and his children, and the third would be made up of members of the Italian Air Force for the training of professional astronauts. Branson is expected to become the next traveler to reach the edge of space on July 4th, 2021, after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said that he would be a part of the first space flight crew of the Blue Origin capsule in the next 20th of July, 2021. Virgin Galactic’s commercial service has been delayed since mid-2020, and it is expected to offer its first ride to its customers in early 2022.