Jun 25, 2021 - Science

Virgin Galactic approved to carry passengers on spaceflights

Photo of a white man with white hair holding both thumbs up behind a miniature model of an airplane

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson at the New York Stock Exchange in 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Virgin Galactic got federal approval to carry passengers on future spaceflights — one of the final hurdles for Richard Branson's company to launch tourists into space.

The backdrop: There's a who-can-get-to-space-first battle brewing between Branson and fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos.

  • Virgin Galactic has roughly 600 reservations for future flights, with tickets for as much as $250,000 a pop, CNBC reports.

But, but, but: The clearance isn’t a signoff on the safety of the space plane.

  • For now, Congress has blocked the Federal Aviation Administration "from regulating the safety of the crew or space flight participants," the agency said.

Shares of Virgin Galactic closed up 39% — its biggest one-day gain since it went public in 2019.

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