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Virgin Galactic Stock Ascends After FAA Clearance on Flights

Virgin Galactic got the thumbs up from the Federal Aviation Administration to resume spaceflights. The stock is higher.
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Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) - Get Free Report took off at warp speed Thursday after federal officials cleared the company to resume licensed space flights.

Shares of the Las Cruces, N.M., company were climbing 6.8% to $24.09 at last check.

Virgin Galactic said it had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to resume flying FAA-licensed spaceflights. 

That's after the agency completed an inquiry that focused on air traffic control clearance and real-time mission notification related to the space company’s Unity 22 flight in July.

The FAA informed Virgin Galactic that it had accepted the company's proposed corrective actions and concluded the inquiry on Aug. 11.

The federal agency on Sept. 2 grounded Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo spacecraft after a yellow caution light appeared on the ship’s console during its July 11 test flight into space

The FAA said in a statement at the time that SpaceShipTwo deviated from its air traffic control clearance as it returned to Spaceport America in New Mexico. 

The agency said Virgin Galactic could not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until it approved the final mishap investigation report or determined the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety.

The corrective actions include updated calculations to expand the protected airspace for future flights.

Designating a larger area will ensure that Virgin Galactic has ample protected airspace for a variety of possible flight trajectories during spaceflight missions, the company said.

The company also proposed additional steps to improve its flight procedures to ensure real-time mission notifications to FAA air traffic control.

Virgin Galactic said it is continuing to focus on its preflight readiness for its next mission, Unity 23.

The company said on Sept. 10 the earliest it expects "to open its flight window for Unity 23 is mid-October."

Branson and a five-person crew took part in the July flight. The space plane reached an altitude of about 282,000 feet and Mach 3, or about 2,300 mph, three times the speed of sound.