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Virgin Galactic shares fly high amid FAA approval to fly passengers to space

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley reports details on Virgin Galactic’s FAA approval to fly passengers to space.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Well, Virgin Galactic can now take you to space after the FAA cleared them to transport non-astronauts, regular folks like you and me. We have Yahoo Finance's tech editor Dan Howley here with all of the details. And Dan, I know you want to be the first one on that flight to go to space. We've already talked about this. What else is happening?

DAN HOWLEY: No way.

[LAUGHTER]

No way would I get on one of these rockets. I get enough freaked out enough getting on a plane. But what they're really doing here is the FAA is saying essentially that people can be passengers on these flights. Now that doesn't mean that Virgin Galactic is going to do it today. They still want to do some tests. There's still going to be three rounds of tests that they're going to run through. A lot of it has to do with the cabin interior and things along those lines.

But Richard Branson could be one of the people that goes on these flights. And so he said that in the first three flights, he wants to do it. So in 2021, he should be getting into space at some point. Really, what this does, though, is it is proving that Virgin Galactic does have the capabilities to bring people up there.

Now, what it will be is kind of an arc over the world. And you will technically be in space, but you're not going to go as high as, say, the International Space Station or something like that. You're still going to be relatively, relatively close to the Earth. But it still seems completely terrifying to me because you'll be dropped off of a plane and then the ship that you're in will then fire its rockets and take you up into the sky and then into space. So they will have eventually some testing for people like Italian astronauts down the line. So obviously, this is a big venture for Virgin Galactic. And this is a huge day for them.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I'm with you, though, Dan. I am not getting in one of those. I would go kicking and screaming. I mean, it sounds exciting, but I just-- I can't do it. Tell me where the others stand, the other billionaires in the space race stand right now in getting normal folks into outer space. I'm talking Jeff Bezos here and Elon Musk.

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, so now there's kind of, you know, with Virgin Galactic being able to take passengers up, not just test crew members, there's kind of this rivalry between Bezos and Richard Branson, basically, who is going to be the first billionaire in space on their own rocket? So Jeff Bezos has said that he wants to do it in July. Branson originally was going to have it later. But now there's murmurs that he may do it over the July 4th weekend, just to beat Bezos into space.

Elon Musk, by the way, they are having their own private offerings for commercial space flight as well. That's going to be on their Dragon capsules-- their crew capsule-- excuse me. And they'll eventually be able to do that even more as the technology improves. I just want to also point out that there is that petition for Jeff Bezos to stay in space forever when he launches on July whenever. So we'll see what happens.

KRISTIN MYERS: I'm surprised at you both. Dan, I figured you'd be the first one on one of those rocket ships. Alexis, you and I had a conversation. So you're willing to get on an ultra fast flight to London in a couple of years, which seems dangerous, but not willing to get on a spaceship. But I am with the both of you. I also would not be willing to get on at all, not until spaceflight is commercialized and everyone has done it many, many times. All right, Dan Howley, thanks so much.