The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has updated Virgin Galactic Holdings’ existing commercial space transportation operator license to allow the “spaceline” or space airliner to fly customers to space.
Virgin Galactic also announced that it has completed an extensive review of data gathered from its May 22 test flight and confirmed that the flight performed well against all flight objectives.
The adjustment to Virgin Galactic’s operator’s license, which the company has held since 2016, marks the first time the FAA has licensed a “spaceline” to fly customers.
Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said, “We’re incredibly pleased with the results of our most recent test flight, which achieved our stated flight test objectives. The flight performed flawlessly, and the results demonstrate the safety and elegance of our flight system. Today’s approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer.”
The May 22 test flight of VMS Eve and VSS Unity was the Company’s third crewed spaceflight and the first-ever spaceflight from Spaceport America, New Mexico. The flight achieved a speed of Mach 3 and reached space at an altitude of 55.5 miles.
After an extensive review of the data collected during the flight, Virgin Galactic confirmed that the rocket-powered test of the spaceship’s upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls demonstrated strong performance, in line with predictions. These enhanced systems, which allow for finer pilot control, will also be deployed in future spaceships in the company’s fleet.
The cabin environment data was in line with predictions, and the flight successfully carried three revenue-generating research experiments that tested and demonstrated technologies in microgravity as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. The pilots flew VSS Unity on a specific trajectory designed to meet the objectives of these research experiments.
With the data analysis from the May flight now complete, Virgin Galactic states that it will continue preparing for the remaining three test flights.
Europe’s only Space ETF, Procure Space UCITS ETF (ticker: YODA) ‘YODA’, which listed on the London Stock Exchange earlier this month, has jumped 3.57% in value today, buoyed by the news that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has received a licence from the US Federal Aviation Administration to fly paying customers to the edge of space in his Virgin Galactic rocket plane.
Virgin Galactic is the second largest holding in the Procure Space UCITS ETF (YODA) accounting for around 3.6% of the fund’s assets. The ETF tracks a new and bespoke SPACE index – the first and only Certified Space Data Product recognised by space exploration advocacy and education organisation Space Foundation – focused on satellite operators and hardware makers. YODA’ is the latest innovation on the HANetf platform with Procure Innovation.
The SPACE index has been designed to capture the growth in the space industry with a focus on pure-play space companies while reflecting the global exposure of the market with more than 80 countries operating in space.
Hector McNeil, co-Founder and co-CEO at HANetf, said: “The space economy opportunity for investors is huge as Governments and corporations continue to expand space exploration, and public and private investment in the space industry grows. Today’s news regarding Virgin Galactic receiving a new licence to fly passengers is just the latest development in this area.
“Space tourism and hospitality is coming closer to reality with would-be customers queuing to go boldly where no man has gone before as costs come down.”