Virgin Galactic gets FAA approval to fly customers into space.
BuildOnTech, Florida: Virgin Galactic finally has federal government approval to begin shipping customers into space from New Mexico.
Richard Branson’s rocket company announced the updated Federal Aviation Administration license on Friday.
It’s the latest hurdle in Virgin Galactic’s long-standing effort to send paying passengers in short space jumps.
The company is working to conduct three more space test flights this summer and early fall before opening the rocket doors to paying customers. The original plans required the company’s engineers to drop in next to evaluate the equipment, followed by a flight with Branson and then a scientific mission by Italian Air Force officers.
Meanwhile, Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos announced plans to fly his rocket into space on July 20 from Texas earlier this month.
Virgin Galactic officials acknowledged the growing talk about whether Branson will try to beat Bezos in space.
“Sir Richard Branson’s flight date has been subject to speculation for some time. At this time, we have no further details on the next flight dates,” wrote company spokeswoman Aleanna Crane in an email.
Unlike the fully automated Blue Origin and SpaceX capsules launched from the ground using reusable rockets, Virgin Galactic uses a winged spacecraft launched from the belly of an airplane and requires a couple of pilots. He has been to space three times since 2018. The second trip brought a third company employee.
More than 600 people have already booked a trip to space. Tickets are initially $ 250,000, but the price is expected to increase once Virgin Galactic begins accepting reservations.
Blue Origin has yet to sell tickets to the public or say how much it will cost. However, Bezos will take his brother and two others for a walk on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the first human moon landing.