Virgin Galactic to launch Branson into space before Bezos
- Virgin Galactic to send Richard Branson to space before Jeff Bezos.
- CNBC's space report Michael Sheetz raises the question of safety.
- Shares of the company jumped 30% on the news on Friday morning.
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Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) is serious about sending Sir Richard Branson to space before Jeff Bezos. The space tourism company said on Thursday its founder will be on board the next test spaceflight scheduled for 11th July – more than a week earlier than Blue Origin that is set to launch its founder Jeff Bezos into space on 20th July.
Michael Sheetz comments on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”
Commenting on the beefed-up race to space, CNBC’s space reporter Michael Sheetz said on “Squawk Box”:
“One really important factoid in terms of Virgin Galactic’s rescheduling is that the fastest time that the company has ever turned around its spacecraft is 71 days between spaceflights. But Branson’s spaceflight would be fifty days apart only. So, there’s an element of speed, there’s an element of efficiency. But the very bottom line is safety. The company has emphasised that they have not reorganised their schedule at the cost of safety, but it’s not something to be taken lightly.”
Virgin Galactic opened about 25% up in the stock market on Friday. Shares, however, lost 10% in the next hour to trade at $49 per share. According to Sheetz, the stock has been volatile because Virgin Galactic’s commercial service is set to launch next year. At the moment, therefore, the company doesn’t have any major source of revenue.
Virgin Galactic stock had soared 40% on FAA license
Virgin Galactic had its best day only recently when the U.S. FAA gave it a license to take paying customers to space. The stock had rallied about 40% on the news.
“It looks like people are excited about it. They see the momentum going into it. This is a stock that’s known to move even on days when SpaceX launches – a completely unrelated company,” Sheetz added.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is currently not a part of this space race, and as per CNBC’s Phil LeBeau, it is unlikely to speed things up just for the sake of becoming a third player.