The final frontier: FAA says Virgin Galactic can blast paying customers into space

Space flight
Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

Anyone who has ever dreamed of flying through the cosmos like Han Solo or Captain Kirk could soon see their wish come true.

Virgin Galactic – a spaceflight company owned by U.K.-based Virgin Group – was granted permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly customers to space, according to a June 25 press release from the company. Permission from the FAA came in an update to the company’s existing commercial space transportation operator license, first granted in 2016.

According to Virgin Galactic, this is the first time the FAA has licensed a spaceflight operator to fly customers.

“It is further validation of the Company’s methodical testing program, which has met the verification and validation criteria required by the FAA,” the company said.

For example, a Virgin Galactic test flight that went out May 22 was successful based on an “extensive” review of data from the flight, said the release. This test flight of VMS Eve and VSS Unity was the company’s third crewed spaceflight and the first from Spaceport America in New Mexico. It achieved a Mach 3 speed and an altitude of 55.5 miles.

Findings from the test flight showed that enhanced systems performed well, cabin environment was in line with predictions and that the flight was able to carry out three “revenue-generating” research experiments.

“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,” CEO Michael Colglazier of Virgin Galactic said. “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.”

Going forward, Virgin Galactic is preparing to conduct three more space flights.

According to CNBC, Virgin Galactic stock jumped 20 percent after the announcement.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images