Billionaire Richard Branson’s spacecraft company Virgin Galactic said on Friday that it has received approval from U.S. aviation safety regulators to send people into space, giving rivals in the emerging and expensive space tourism industry Brings pressure.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval comes at a critical moment for Branson’s space adventure facing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Tesla’s boss Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Branson, Bezos, and Musk have been investing billions of dollars in their rocket startups.
According to reports, Branson was flying into space on his own to defeat rival billionaire Bezos to enter the final frontier, and received the green light after a successful test flight a month later.
Virgin Galactic completed its first manned space flight from New Mexico’s New Homeport in May last month. Its SpaceShipTwo, a spacecraft capable of carrying six passengers, landed safely on the runway with two pilots.
Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colgrazier said in a statement: “Today’s FAA approval…gave us full of confidence because we will conduct the first manned test flight this summer.