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Virgin Galactic Surges After FAA Approves Commercial Space Launch License

The Richard Branson-backed aerospace group will launch a crewed test flight later this summer as billionaires continue to push space travel boundaries.

Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) - Get Free Report shares jumped higher Friday after the Federal Aviation Administration updated the aerospace group's launch license to allow for passenger travel into space.

The FAA decision follows a May 22 test flight from the group's launch base in Spaceport America, New Mexico, when its VMS Eve and VSS Unity reached an altitude of 55.5 miles and a top speed of Mach 3.

The group also plans to have its first crewed test flight later this summer, likely in the weeks following the maiden flight of Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Free Report founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket company that will carry six people, including its crew, into space for a journey that will last around five minutes, before returning for a landing in West Texas.

“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," said CEO Michael Colglazier. "Today’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.”  

Virgin Galactic Holdings shares were marked 18.2% higher in pre-market trading Friday following news of the FAA upgrade to indicate an opening bell price of $47.70 each.

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