Former NASA administrator on Branson’s spaceflight: ‘it’s a remarkable achievement’

on Jul 12, 2021
  • Sir Richard Branson successfully flied to the edge of space on Sunday.
  • Sean O'Keefe discusses space tourism on CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange".
  • Virgin Galactic shares tanked close to 10% on Monday morning.

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Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) launched its founder Sir Richard Branson to the edge of space on Sunday in its very first fully crewed test flight. The historic event marked Branson’s victory against Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos in the race to space.

Despite the successful spaceflight, shares of the company tanked close to 10% on Monday morning.

Sean O’Keefe’s comments on CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange”

Former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe lauded Virgin’s spaceflight as a remarkable milestone. In his interview with CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange”, he said:

“This is the first time that a privately financed, not government sponsored mission was flown to right at the edge of space. They achieved apogee at a little over 50 miles which is the U.S. definition of what is the edge of space. It’s a remarkable achievement in a remarkable spacecraft that they’ve designed.”

Virgin Galactic is now set to launch commercial flights to space next year. Before that, the British-American company wants its spacecraft to successfully complete two more spaceflights. In his interview with CNBC shortly after landing back on Earth, Sir Richard Branson said:

“We’re here to make space more accessible to all. Welcome to the dawn of a new space age.”

Bezos congratulates Branson on flying to space

Jeff Bezos congratulated Branson on a successful spaceflight and expressed his excitement for joining the club next week.

In his interview, O’Keefe also added that a prominent challenge for Virgin Galactic to overcome was designing an aircraft that resembles an airplane in that it takes off from a runway but is capable of carrying the crew as well as its passengers to space. “That’s what this is the beginning of right here.”

On a year-to-date basis, Virgin Galactic shares are still more than 100% up. The spaceflight company is now valued at $10.77 billion.