Virgin’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, in Sydney, Australia.
James D. Morgan | Getty Images
Virgin Galactic announced on Thursday that the space tourism company will attempt to launch its next test spaceflight on July 11, carrying founder Sir Richard Branson.
Branson is aiming to beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to space, as the latter plans to launch with his own company Blue Origin on July 20.
“As part of a remarkable crew of mission specialists, I’m honoured to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin,” Branson said.
This will be Virgin Galactic’s fourth test spaceflight to date and its first mission with a crew of four on board, as the company launched its most recent spaceflight with just two pilots on May 22.
Shares of Virgin popped 17% during after-hours trading. The stock closed down 6% earlier Thursday.
Alongside Branson will be three Virgin Galactic mission specialists: Chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, lead operations engineer Colin Bennett, and government affairs VP Sirisha Bandla.
Also for the first time, Virgin Galactic says it will publicly livestream the spaceflight across Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
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