Take your protein pills and put your helmet on. It seems like sooner than you think, space tourism is going to become a more achievable vacation plan. Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) is gearing up for what will ultimately be one of the most important spaceflights in history, and SPCE stock is flying high today as a result.
Virgin’s newest flight might not seem so important when looking at the technical details; the VSS Unity is a suborbital craft, and we’ve seen plenty of suborbital flights in the past. However, this test flight isn’t to push the boundaries of space exploration. Rather, it’s a test to gauge customer experience and unlock commercial potential.
Virgin Galactic will be taking founder Richard Branson aboard as the first “customer” of its commercial space travel service.
The company announced the flight just hours ago on Twitter, with a video detailing the crew of the mission. The July 11 date is a crucial one for Branson as he attempts to get to space ahead of Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin company, which is launching on July 20. Not only will the flight be the first to model the company’s coming commercial flights, it is the first fully crewed test flight in the company’s history.
The news comes just a week after the company received its license for commercial flight from the Federal Aviation Administration. The update to its existing operating license will allow it to take paying customers to space as passengers, rather than limiting seats to only crew members. This in and of itself is a huge deal. The FAA’s decision comes from a highly successful test flight in late May.
SPCE Stock Gains After Branson Spaceflight Announcement
As the first publicly traded space travel play of the big three, SPCE stock already stands to gain. But with the company on pace to get Branson into space ahead of Bezos, things are really cooking for them on the market today.
This morning, SPCE stock is seeing a trading volume of 38 million, shattering its daily average of 28 million. The stock’s value has risen over 17% so far today, with shares swapping hands at $50.35.
On the date of publication, Brenden Rearick did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.