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: Virgin Galactic stock takes off after FAA investigation ends

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. shares jumped more than 9% in after-hours trading Wednesday, after the space-tourism company announced the end of an investigation into its first flight.

Virgin Galactic
SPCE,
-3.55%

said Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration has finished an inquiry into the company’s test flight with founder Richard Branson on board, which flew out of its protected airspace. The company said that the FAA had requested that it designate a larger protected airspace for future flights and introduce new procedures to provide real-time information on flights to air-traffic control.

“We appreciate the FAA’s thorough review of this inquiry. Our test flight program is specifically designed to continually improve our processes and procedures,” Chief Executive Michael Colglazier said in a statement. “The updates to our airspace and real-time mission notification protocols will strengthen our preparations as we move closer to the commercial launch of our spaceflight experience.”

Virgin Galactic’s flights had been grounded since Aug. 11 as a result of the inquiry, but are now cleared to proceed. The next planned flight, Unity 23, was scheduled for late September or early October, but Virgin Galactic had already postponed those plans due to a faulty part.

After closing with a 3.6% decline at $22.56, shares neared $25 in after-hours trading Wednesday. The stock has struggled since the FAA investigation became known, and has lost more than half its value in the past three months, declining 52%. Shares are still up 10.4% in the past year, which trails the 30.5% advance of the S&P 500 index
SPX,
+0.16%

in that time.

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