Virgin Galactic sets first commercial space tourism flight for this month; shares spike more than 40%

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Spacecraft VSS Unity fires its engine during the Unity 25 spaceflight, May 25, 2023.
Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic aims to launch its commercial space tourism service in late June.

Shares of the company spiked more than 40% in extended trading Thursday.

Virgin Galactic on Thursday said the flight, called Galactic 01, is targeting a launch window that opens June 27 and runs to June 30. Virgin Galactic then plans for its second commercial flight to follow in “early August,” with “monthly” commercial flights after that.

Galactic 01 will carry three members of the Italian Air Force to conduct microgravity research with science payloads.

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The company completed its final test spaceflight in May and said Thursday that it completed “routine analysis and vehicle inspections” of its carrier aircraft VMS Eve and spacecraft VSS Unity.

Virgin Galactic’s first commercial spaceflight has been a long-awaited milestone for the company to begin flying its backlog of about 800 passengers. The company was founded in 2004 by billionaire Richard Branson. The June launch will also begin moving Virgin Galactic toward showing it can fly commercial flights regularly, which is crucial to its long-term success.

“We are launching the first commercial spaceline for Earth with two dynamic products — our scientific research and private astronaut space missions,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement.

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