FAA gives Virgin Galactic its full commercial launch license

Last Friday it was announced that Virgin Galactic was awarded their full commercial launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration. The marks the beginning of their operational status for crewed sub-orbital flights to space.

What does this mean for Virgin Galactic

Unlike other crewed commercial vehicles, Virgin Galactic’s space planes need pilots to fly, so they’ve already been flying crew on their test flights for some time. Now, they will be allowed to fly their paying customers on flights from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

This announcement follows their most recent test flight back on May 22nd. According to the company, this flight met all of its flight requirements, which helped the FAA determine that Virgin was ready for their full license.

“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of our most recent test flight, which achieved our stated flight test objectives. The flight performed flawlessly, and the results demonstrate the safety and elegance of our flight system. [Friday’s] approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer.”

Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic’s stock skyrockets afterward

The day the news hit that they would receive their full license, the company’s stock jumped by 30%. This marked the company’s best trading day since their shares went public back in 2019.

Who will fly on their next mission?

Virgin Galactic has not yet announced when and who will fly on their next flight, but rumors have circulated that Richard Branson may be a passenger. In February, they announced that paying customer flights would be pushed back to the beginning of 2022, with additional training missions coming this year.

If Virgin Galactic opts to fly in the coming weeks, with their founder on board, there is a chance that Richard Branson could beat Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin to space.

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