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Virgin Galactic Falls After Space-Flight Delay Due to Covid

Virgin Galactic (SPCE) shares fell on Monday after the space-travel company said that a scheduled flight from New Mexico would be delayed due to the pandemic.

“Virgin, in accordance with new guidelines from the New Mexico Department of Health to disrupt the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the state, today announced that it will be minimizing its operational footprint at its New Mexico facilities,” the company, founded and partly owned by the U.K. entrepreneur Richard Branson, said in a statement.

“In consultation with government officials, and as a result of these new operations restrictions, the space flight that was planned to occur between November 19-23 will be rescheduled.” The company said it will reschedule a new test-flight window as soon as it can.

Virgin’s operations base sits at Spaceport America in south-central New Mexico, north of Las Cruces, while its manufacturing and development activity is in California’s Mojave Desert.

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Virgin Galactic Loses More Money, Plans to Sell More Tickets

Shares of space tourism company Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) are up a strong 13% since reporting earnings last Thursday. This must mean that the company’s results were great, right?



a man flying through the air while riding a snowboard down a hill: Virgin Galactic Loses More Money, Plans to Sell More Tickets


© Provided by The Motley Fool
Virgin Galactic Loses More Money, Plans to Sell More Tickets

Well, no. As my fellow Fool Lou Whiteman pointed out at the time, Virgin Galactic actually fell quite a bit short of even Wall Street’s rather low expectations for Q3. Analysts had forecast that Virgin would lose $0.26 per share. It actually lost $0.34 per share — and reported zero revenue for its second straight quarter.

But if “earnings” aren’t the reason that Virgin Galactic stock is rising after earnings, then what is? Let’s dig into the report and see if we can find out. 



a man flying through the air while riding a snowboard down a mountain: VSS Unity flying free over New Mexico during June 25 glide test flight.


© Virgin Galactic
VSS Unity flying free over New Mexico during June 25 glide test flight.

First launch

“Space tourism”

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Virgin Galactic to Launch Crewed Test Flight From New Mexico

Virgin Galactic is coming one step closer to its goal of bringing paying tourists to the very edge of space, with the company announcing it will perform its first crewed test flight from Spaceport America later this month.

The spacecraft VSS Unity, a SpaceShipTwo model, will take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, from where customers will launch to the edge of space. The company has previously performed a number of test flights from Mojave Air and Space Port in California, but now it will perform another test with crew aboard from New Mexico.

As reported by AP, the VSS Unity will be taken into high altitude by a carrier jet and then released, from where its rocket engines will carry it onward to an altitude of at least 50 miles. The craft will then descend and glide back to earth, landing on a runway.

There’s some debate about

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Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson still plans to be the first ‘space billionaire’ to actually travel to space

Richard Branson, the thrill-seeking British billionaire, founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 on the promise that a privately developed spacecraft would make it possible for hundreds of people to become astronauts, no NASA training required. And if a 2,500-mile-per-hour ride to the edge of space sounded off-putting, Branson also pledged to take the journey himself before letting paying customers on board.



Richard Branson standing in front of a television screen: Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group Ltd., speaks during an interview following Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.'s initial public offering (IPO) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. became the first space-tourism business to go public as it began trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange with a market value of about $1 billion. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images


© Michael Nagle/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group Ltd., speaks during an interview following Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.’s initial public offering (IPO) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. became the first space-tourism business to go public as it began trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange with a market value of about $1 billion. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Branson is the only one among the group of the

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Virgin Galactic plans 1st New Mexico space launch this month

FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2020, file photo, Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity departs Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, Calif. for the final time as Virgin Galactic shifts its SpaceFlight operations to New Mexico. Virgin Galactic said Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, it expects to launch its first test spaceflight from New Mexico between Nov. 19-23.
FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2020, file photo, Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity departs Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, Calif. for the final time as Virgin Galactic shifts its SpaceFlight operations to New Mexico. Virgin Galactic said Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, it expects to launch its first test spaceflight from New Mexico between Nov. 19-23. “This will be the first-ever human spaceflight conducted from New Mexico,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier said in a statement. (Matt Hartman via AP, File)Matt Hartman/AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Virgin Galactic said Thursday that it expects to launch its first manned test flight into space from New Mexico this month.

The company’s spacecraft, VSS Unity, conducted two previous test spaceflights from Mojave, California, before moving in to its facilities at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Testing there

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Virgin Galactic Still Plans Spaceflight Test This Fall

Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE) said on Monday that it is still on track to do a space test flight this fall, looking to reassure investors who were disappointed that an earlier test was not what was expected.

In a update published on its website, the company said preparations for the test flight “continue to progress well,” and that the upcoming test should provide some of the data the company needs to win final Federal Aviation Administration approval of its spaceflight license.

The mission will also be revenue generating, a rarity for Virgin Galactic at its current stage. The launch will include three NASA payloads in the cabin that will collect data while the spaceship is at altitude.

The Virgin Unity spacecraft with its mothership.

The Virgin Unity spacecraft attached to its mother ship. Image source: Virgin Galactic.

It will also give the company a chance to test its suite of internal cabin cameras and other customer-experience elements.

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Virgin Galactic Initiated Neutral – Prospects Up in the Air

Shares of Virgin Galactic  (SPCE)  fell on Friday after Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak began coverage of the space-travel company with a neutral rating.

Virgin was founded and is partly owned by U.K. serial entrepreneur Richard Branson

Poponak pegged his share-price target at $19, below the estimates of all other analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. 

The stock recently traded at $19.29, down 7%. It has dropped 67% this year amid intense competition and uncertain prospects.

Virgin Galactic hopes to lead the pack for private space travel, which could be a lucrative market. But “time to realization of the opportunity is very long, customer adoption and recurrence uncertain, and potential for competition not insignificant,” Poponak wrote in a commentary cited by Bloomberg.

“The key question for investing in SPCE is how many people will want to fly to space and how much will they pay to do so.” 

Virgin faces

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Window opens for Virgin Galactic’s final round of testing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The window for the final round of testing of Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered spacecraft opens later this week as the company inches toward commercial flights.

Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses updated New Mexico lawmakers on the progress during a meeting Monday. He said the space tourism company already has done nine flights from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico, including two glide flights by the spaceship.

While the exact date has yet to be determined, the upcoming test will mark the third space flight for Virgin Galactic and the first from New Mexico. Moses called it a big milestone for an idea that was first pitched decades ago.


“New Mexico will join California and Florida as only the third state in the U.S. to host human space flight missions and send people into space,” Moses said.

For the test flight, two pilots will crew the spacecraft and

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New Horizons Pluto probe leader Alan Stern is going to space with Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic just added a big-name scientist to its passenger list.

Alan Stern, who leads NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond, has been selected to fly aboard SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space plane. 

It won’t just be a pleasure cruise: Stern was chosen via NASA’s Flight Opportunities program to conduct agency-funded research on the future flight, which has yet to be scheduled.

Related: How Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo works (infographic)

“This is the first selection of a private-sector researcher to fly with NASA funding on commercial vehicles,” Stern, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct. 15), when the news was announced. 

He described his selection as a “potential sea change” that could pave the way for much more extensive human-tended research in space down the road.

The two-pilot, six-passenger SpaceShipTwo is hauled aloft by a carrier

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