Brit in Space.
Sir Richard Branson on Sunday will fly to the edge of space on a spaceplane built by Virgin Galactic (SPCE) - Get Virgin Galactic Report, his own space exploration company, becoming the first private citizen to fly on a private aircraft to the outer limits of earth’s atmosphere and back.
Branson will travel on VSS Unity, which will launch from mothership VMS Eve on Sunday, July 11, with a live stream of the event starting at 9 a.m .ET from the company’s Spaceport America launch area in New Mexico.
The flight, which will begin with the VMS Eve rocketing to 50,000 feet and then launching Unity, a reusable, winged spacecraft that can carry six passengers and two pilots into space, will put Branson into orbit nine days before Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report founder Jeff Bezos, who has his own stratospheric itinerary set for July 20.
It will also mark the culmination of a long-running effort to commercialize space travel, something that has been viewed by investors and analysts as a financially promising endeavor that will re-shape travel, tourism and transportation.
Branson and his crew will fly approximately three and a half times the speed of sound (2,600 mph) into suborbital space, reaching up to 360,890 feet above the Earth's surface.
Virgin Galactic in late May completed its first space flight from Spaceport America, marking its third successful trip outside Earth.
Virgin Galactic has additional test flights scheduled to take place over the next few months ahead of plans to fly 600 "future astronaut" ticket holders in 2022. The Federal Aviation Administration last month updated the aerospace company's launch license to allow for passenger travel into space.
Shares of Virgin Galactic soared on Thursday ahead of the planned launch, gaining more than 17%. Year to date the stock has jumped more than 120%. At last check, the the shares were down 4.04% at $50.63.