Virgin Galactic can fly people into space

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. received regulatory approval to fly customers into space, moving the budding industry founded by billionaires one step closer to reality.

The Federal Aviation Administration upgraded the company’s existing license to cover customer flights, Virgin Galactic said Friday in a statement, saying the approval was the first of its kind.

The company also confirmed that a May 22 test flight performed well against objectives.

The approval marks another milestone for an industry that not long ago was the stuff of science fiction. Virgin Galactic, founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson, has been working toward its goal since 2004.

Fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos plans his first trip in July, after auctioning a passenger seat for $28 million.

Shares of Virgin Galactic jumped 11% in premarket U.S. trading. As of Thursday, the company had a market value of $9.7 billion.

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Virgin Galactic can fly people into space