Virgin Galactic introduced on Thursday that the house tourism firm will try to launch its subsequent check spaceflight on July 11, carrying founder Sir Richard Branson.

Branson is aiming to beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to space, because the latter plans to launch together with his personal firm, Blue Origin, on July 20.

“After greater than 16 years of analysis, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands on the vanguard of a brand new business house business, which is ready to open house to humankind and alter the world for good,” Branson stated in a press release. “I am honoured to assist validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and guarantee we ship the distinctive buyer expertise folks anticipate from Virgin.”

This will probably be Virgin Galactic’s fourth check spaceflight to this point and its first mission with a crew of 4 on board, as the corporate launched its most up-to-date spaceflight, on Might 22, with simply two pilots.

Shares of Virgin Galactic popped greater than 20% throughout after-hours buying and selling, up from Thursday’s shut of $43.19.

Alongside Branson will probably be three Virgin Galactic mission specialists: Chief astronaut teacher Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett, and authorities affairs VP Sirisha Bandla. Virgin Galactic pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci will fly the corporate’s VSS Unity spacecraft.

Virgin Galactic stated it should livestream the spaceflight for the primary time, a feed that will probably be accessible on Twitter, YouTube and Fb.

On June 25 the corporate introduced that the Federal Aviation Administration granted it a license to fly passengers on future spaceflights, and Virgin is concentrating on early 2022 to start flying paying passengers.

Branson based Virgin Galactic in 2004 to construct an area tourism enterprise.

The corporate’s spacecraft launch from a service plane earlier than accelerating to greater than 3 times the velocity of sound. The spacecraft then spends a couple of minutes in microgravity above 80 kilometers altitude — the boundary the U.S. formally acknowledges as house — earlier than slowly flipping round and gliding again to Earth to land on a runway.

Virgin Galactic competes solely with Bezos’ Blue Origin within the realm of suborbital house tourism, as Elon Musk’s SpaceX carries passengers on longer journeys into orbit, equivalent to to the Worldwide House Station.

In June, Bezos introduced that he would fly on Blue Origin’s first passenger flight of its New Shepard rocket. Bezos is scheduled to launch on July 20, and can fly alongside his brother in addition to the winner of a $28 million public auction and legendary aerospace pioneer Wally Funk.

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