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Virgin Galactic Shares Rocket Ahead of Friday Launch

Virgin Galactic shares jumped after its low-orbit rocket was mated with its mothership ahead of a Dec. 11 launch.
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Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) - Get Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc Report shares jumped on Monday after the space tourism company said its SpaceShip Two Unity was mated with its delivery craft at its spaceport in New Mexico. 

The Las Cruces, N.M., company plans to launch its first human spaceflight from Spaceport America on Dec. 11. It had paused those plans earlier in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The delivery craft, or mothership, will haul the SpaceShip Two Unity to about 50,000 feet before releasing it. A hybrid rocket engine will then thrust SpaceShip Two to the edge of space before it glides back down to the launch area. 

Virgin Galactic shares at last check rose 14% to $32.78 

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Virgin had also planned to launch a rocket-powered test flight between Nov. 19 and 23 but postponed that flight due to a New Mexico state health order that closed nonessential businesses until Nov. 30. 

On Sunday, rival SpaceX, which is owned by Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report Founder Elon Musk, launched its first mission to the International Space Station, carrying a Dragon spacecraft that will ferry tons of cargo to the low-orbit space station. 

That was the 24th successful launch for SpaceX this year, including 23 orbital flights and a demonstration of Crew Dragon's abort system. 

In May, SpaceX successfully launched its first astronaut mission with its Starship rocket. Last year Musk said that Starship could potentially fly space tourists this year

Since May, Musk has made Starship the company's top priority, CNBC reported, according to an email sent to staff. The email says that the development program should accelerate "dramatically and immediately."