Virgin Galactic announces first commercial spaceflights this summer

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity returns to earth after the mothership separated at Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Virgin Galactic announced Thursday that the "spaceline for Earth is open" and the company will hold its first commercial spaceflights this summer.

Shares soared on Friday by double-digits. 

Virgin Galactic’s first commercial spaceflight is scheduled to happen from June 27 to June 30. The scientific research mission, known as "Galactic 01," will carry three crew members from the Italian Air Force and National Research Council of Italy and conduct research on microgravity, according to a release from the company.

That will be followed in early August by Virgin Galactic’s first private astronaut flight, a mission that will be known as "Galactic 02." The company’s release did not specify who will participate in the private astronaut flight. 

The company’s press release said following the launch of Galactic 02, monthly spaceflights are expected to happen hereafter. Virgin Galactic completed its test flight in advance of the Galactic 01 and Galactic 02 flights in May.

"If you ever dreamed of exploring beyond, welcome to the new space age," Virgin Galactic’s promotional video said.


In this photo illustration, Virgin Galactic VSS Unity space plane is seen on a fragment of a Virgin Galactic Unity 22 Spaceflight Livestream Youtube video (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Following the announcement, Virgin Galactic shares surged in after-hours trading.

The company’s stock price soared by over 40% to $4.06 per share as of 7:40 p.m. ET, although it remained well below the all-time highs of more than $55 per share it reached in 2021.


Sir Richard Branson speaks after he flew into space aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel, a voyage he described as the "experience of a lifetime" (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Virgin Galactic was founded by billionaire Richard Branson in 2004 and is headquartered in Orange County, California. The company aims to find commercial success by selling private trips to space to members of the public in addition to facilitating scientific research missions.


It began offering ticket sales to members of the public interested in private spaceflight in 2022. Prices for a reservation run about $450,000 and the company has a reported waitlist of about 800 passengers.

A spinoff company, Virgin Orbit, was launched in 2017 but faced layoffs in March 2023 and was ultimately shuttered in May 2023 due to financial and technical challenges.

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