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Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. became the first space-tourism business to go public as it began trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The listing, carried out through a merger with a shell investment company that was already trading, secures vital new funding for Branson as the British entrepreneur competes with fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk in what’s been dubbed “the new space race.” The deal gives Virgin Galactic a market value of about $2.4 billion, the company said.

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