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Virgin Galactic Soars As Branson Sets Date With Space In 9 Days

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By Dhirendra Tripathi

Investing.com – Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) was up by more than 27% during Friday’s premarket trading as the company said it will launch founder Richard Branson and a full crew into space by July 11.

If the flight goes as scheduled, Branson will beat Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos in a race of billionaires to fly to the space. Bezos is scheduled to fly on July 20.

The other contender, Elon Musk, is yet to announce a date for his flight.

Virgin had last week secured the U.S. aviation safety regulator’s nod to fly humans into space.

Branson's July 11 mission will be the twenty-second flight test for VSS Unity, and the company's fourth crewed spaceflight, Virgin said.

But it will be the first to carry a full crew of two pilots and four "mission specialists," including Branson.

A successful flight by Branson aboard Virgin's VSS Unity spaceplane would mark a key milestone in a race to usher in a new era of private commercial space travel.

UBS estimates commercial space travel will be a $3 billion annual tourism market by 2030.

Two additional test flights are planned before Virgin begins a commercial service which should happen next year, according to a company note.

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