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Virgin Galactic Shares Blast Off After FAA Approves Full Commercial Launch License

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Shares of Virgin Galactic Holdings traded more than 30% higher after the company reported it received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for a full commercial license following its successful test flight last month.

Aerospace and space travel company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (SPCE:NYSE), which is engaged in pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers, today announced that "the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated its existing commercial space transportation operator license to allow the spaceline to fly customers to space."

The firm stated that following the completion of its May 22 test flight it performed a complete and extensive review of the data gathered during the test mission and confirmed that the flight performed well in accordance with all of the flight's predefined objectives.

Virgin Galactic advised that the adjustment to its operator's license is historic in that it signifies the first time the FAA has licensed a spaceline to fly customers. The company added that the action strongly validates its methodical testing program as evidenced by meeting the FAA's strict verification and validation requirements.

The company's CEO Michael Colglazier commented, "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."

"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," Colglazier added.

Virgin Galactic highlighted that the VMS Eve and VSS Unity test flight was its third crewed spaceflight. During the mission, the flight reportedly achieved a speed of Mach 3 and climbed to an altitude of 55.5 miles above the earth. The company pointed out that the rocket-powered test of the spaceship's upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls demonstrated strong performance during the flight as predicted and will be incorporated in future vehicles in its space fleet.

The firm explained that during the May flight cabin environment data collected was in line with predictions. The company also indicated that "the flight was successful in carrying three revenue-generating research experiments that tested and demonstrated technologies in microgravity as part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program."

The company noted that as the data from the May flight has now been fully reviewed and analyzed, it will now focus its efforts on preparing for its next scheduled three test flights.

Virgin Galactic is a vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company headquartered in Las Cruces, N.M. The firm stated that it is "pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers, as well as a manufacturer of advanced air and space vehicles."

Virgin Galactic started off the day with a market cap of around $9.7 billion with approximately 240.7 million shares outstanding and a short interest of about 14.3%. SPCE shares opened 18.75% higher today at $47.81 (+$7.55, +18.75%) over yesterday's $40.26 closing price. The stock has traded today between $45.87 and $56.40 per share and is presently trading at $54.11 (+$13.85, +34.40%).


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