Virgin Galactic’s shares soared due to company’s plans to send tourists into space

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The FINANCIAL — Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. shares surged on Tuesday. Company is one step closer to eventually launching paying passengers into space. Virgin Galactic has over 600 reservations and $80 million in deposits for 90 minute flights. Also, SpaceX announced plans to send up to four private citizens on an orbital voyage.

Shares of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic soared more than 20% at one point Tuesday, putting the private space company on track for a seven-day winning streak. Shares of Virgin Galactic have now skyrocketed nearly 200% since the company went public last October through a merger with a so-called special purpose acquisition company or SPAC. Shares have surged lately due to optimism about the company’s plans to launch a commercial space service. Virgin Galactic announced last week that it relocated its SpaceShipTwo suborbital plane, also known as VSS Unity, to its commercial headquarters in New Mexico. That brings the company one step closer to eventually launching paying passengers into space, CNN Business reported.

Virgin Galactic was the third most traded stock on Fidelity’s online brokerage in recent sessions, with two thirds of clients buying shares, rather than selling. Orders for Virgin Galactic on Fidelity trailed only Apple Inc. and Tesla. Virgin Galactic is racing against SpaceX and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to bring tourists into space, but is the only one of the three whose shares are publicly listed. That makes Virgin Galactic the only option for stock market investors who want to buy into the emerging business of space travel, Yahoo Finance wrote.

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Virgin Galactic has over 600 reservations and $80 million in deposits for 90 minute flights that include several minutes of weightlessness, priced at $250,000 a ticket. Fanning enthusiasm around space tourism on Tuesday, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk’s SpaceX announced plans here to send up to four private citizens on an orbital voyage aboard its Crew Dragon spacecraft, launched on its Falcon 9 rocket, according to Reuters.

Space Adventures, the company that organized the flights for the world’s first private space explorers, is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metro area. It offers a variety of programs available today, including spaceflight missions to the International Space Station, around the Moon, record-breaking orbital missions, and various training and spaceflight qualification programs, Space Adventures reported.

Building on the success of Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station in March 2019 and the recent successful test of the spacecraft’s launch escape system, Space Adventures, Inc. has entered into an agreement with SpaceX to fly private citizens on the first Crew Dragon free-flyer mission. This will provide up to four individuals with the opportunity to break the world altitude record for private citizen spaceflight and see planet Earth the way no one has since the Gemini program, Space Adventures stated.

Virgin Galactic has named its first SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity – the craft that the company has used in all of its test flights – though the firm is expected to build more in future. Once released from WhiteKnightTwo, SpaceShipTwo’s rocket motor engages ‘within seconds’, according to Virgin Galactic. The craft will then fly approximately three and a half times the speed of sound (2,600mph/4,300kph) into suborbital space, reaching up to 360,890ft (110,000 metres) above the Earth’s surface. After the rocket motor has fired for around a minute, the pilots will shut it down, and passengers can then take off their seatbelts to experience weightlessness for several minutes. The pilots will manoeuvre the spaceship to give the best possible views of Earth and space while raising the vehicle’s wings to its ‘feathered’ re-entry configuration, which decelerates the craft and stabilises its descent. As gravity pulls the spaceship back towards the Earth’s upper atmosphere, astronauts will return to their seats ready to return to our planet, according to Daily Mail.

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