Shares of Richard Branson’s aerospace company Virgin Galactic soared 41% overnight on news that the billionaire will be onboard the test flight scheduled for July 11, ahead of rival Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin group.
Virgin Galactic’s stock price jumped to $61 per share during Friday morning trading on the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange. During premarket trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the company’s stock rose by 37.3% to $59.33 per share.
Morning trading at the St. Petersburg stock exchange even had to be suspended for some 30 minutes due to increased volatility, as the shares surged by more than 20% within 10 minutes.
70-year-old Branson will become one of four members of the Virgin Galactic crew to launch on July 11 in support of his company’s commercial space travel aspirations. As ‘Astronaut 001’, he will do the job of “evaluating the customer spaceflight experience.”
Branson is set to beat Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin group into orbit by nine days, with Bezos’ flight scheduled for July 20.
Virgin Galactic has already posted the countdown for the newly announced flight on its official website, YouTube channel, Twitter, and Facebook.
The company successfully tested its SpaceShipTwo Unity manned spacecraft on May 22. Following the test, it was granted official permission to fly into space with passengers on board by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Virgin Galactic now has three more test flights ahead of its first commercial launch.
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