Virgin Galactic to start commercial flight in late June, shares rise

(Reuters) – Space-tourism company Virgin Galactic Holdings said on Monday that a four-member test flight will take place in May and that it aims to launch its first commercial flight in late June.

Shares jumped 4% after the company said the May mission would be the final test of the spaceflight system and astronaut experience before it opens up for commercial services.

The company, backed by billionaire Richard Branson, had in May last year delayed its commercial service to the first quarter of 2023 due to supply-chain crisis and labor shortage.

After completing a lengthy upgrade for its centerpiece tourist spacecraft in February, Virgin Galactic re-opened ticket sales for spacecraft flights, setting the price at $450,000 per person with an initial deposit of $150,000.

“Returning to space is what we have all worked towards,” said Mike Moses, president of spaceline missions and safety.

The mission crew will consist of Jamila Gilbert, Christopher Hue, Luke Mays and Beth Moses.

(Reporting by Samrhitha Arunasalam in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)