Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc

Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc NYSE
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Important events

Jan 142022

Virgin gets pushed into reentry

Investors are packing their bags after Virgin Galactic says it’s adding a hangar full of debt to its already heavy load.

  • Shares returned to Earth by 18% on Thursday, hitting their lowest price since March 2020 when the pandemic was in full swing.
  • It’s raising up to $500m in debt, $425m of which will be through 2027 convertible senior notes, and will use it to “accelerate the development of its spacecraft fleet”.
  • Said spacecraft fleet was due to start flying customers in 2020, but a series of setbacks means commercial flights won’t be taking off until at least late 2022.
Virgin Galactic
Oct 262021

Bezos is all business, and Branson isn't keeping up

Jeff Bezos is getting busy, announcing plans to launch an entire business park in space, while Branson’s space travel baby sits grounded for a year.

Billionaire space exploration rival Blue Origin is making some impressive headway on its journey to space domination, having just unveiled plans to launch a commercial space station in low-orbit in the second half of this decade. The news comes as Virgin Galactic trades at its lowest levels since May after delaying any future space travel to 2022, making people wonder if Branson is slipping behind.

It’s not just Blue Origin to contend with either – Elon Musk’s SpaceX has just swiped a $2.9 billion contract from NASA, and is operating in a league of its own.
Oct 202021

Branson’s staff are taking off for Bezos

A former Virgin Galactic flight test director has switched teams, joining Blue Origin.

Mark "Forger" Stucky, who until recently was a flight test director at Virgin Galactic, is cheering on another team after taking a job with key competitor Jeff Bezos’ space Blue Origin. Stucky was the director that piloted the first flight on Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo in 2018, but says he was fired earlier this year – not long after Branson’s historic flight into orbit. Stucky wrote at the time:

I'll leave it to Virgin Galactic to explain the reason for my termination as they never explained it to me.

Virgin Galactic is trading at its lowest levels since mid-May after delaying its next commercial flight to the end of 2022.
Illustration by TradingView
Oct 192021

Is Virgin Galactic losing the market?

After a 17% loss on Friday, Virgin stumbles another 1.45% on Monday as inventors react to a UBS downgrade that sees the stock falling another 25%.

After a quiet few months dealing with an FAA investigation, Virgin Galactic further delayed the beginning of its commercial space tourism service to the fourth quarter of 2022 on Friday amid a reorganization of its development and test flight schedule. Investors were less than pleased, especially as Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’s Blue Origin continue to hit milestones, and prices went into freefall to lose nearly 17%. The stock failed to catch a parachute on the way down and lost a further 1.45% on Monday, prompted by a UBS downgrade that advised investors to sell the stock. Analyst Myles Walton has joined the bears, changing his rating from Neutral to Sell and seeing the stock drop another 25% as it continues to feel the pressure of flight delays. The analyst gave Virgin a one year price target of $15, down from its $45 target three months ago.

Virgin Galactic is down 22% for the month so far, after spending the last three consecutive months in the red. Prices closed Monday at $19.72, their lowest price since mid-May.
Oct 152021

Virgin stock goes into free fall after further delays

Virgin Galactic stock falls back down to earth with no parachute in sight, seeing a drop of 11% in one hour after the space exploration company delayed its next commercial space flight to the fourth quarter of 2022.

After a quiet few months dealing with an FAA investigation, Virgin Galactic has further delayed the beginning of its commercial space tourism service to the fourth quarter of 2022 as opposed to the third, amid a reorganization of its development and test flight schedule. The company said:

Virgin Galactic has been performing routine tests and analyses to update its material properties database. One of these recent laboratory-based tests flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints, and this requires further physical inspection.

Prices fell 11% in one hour, and continued to free fall on after hours trading after closing the day at $24.06.
Chris Nguyen / Unsplash
Oct 132021

Can Virgin keep up?

Virgin Galactic has been flying under the radar since its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigation forced the company to delay its next space mission. The probe into Richard Branson’s flight mishap came back free and clear, but there hasn't been any news out of the company as to when we can expect its next trip sub-orbital. The same can't be said for its competitors, and on Wednesday, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin will launch its second crewed rocket to the edge of space – complete with famed Star Trek actor William Shatner as a guest.

Branson better get going if he hopes to keep his lead in the billionaire space race.
Oct 042021

Virgin Galactic grinds back down to earth

Virgin Galactic stock flew over 12% on Thursday on news that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had cleared the company for all future flights. The gains didn't last long though, after investors came back down to earth and realized that there are still a few obstacles in the way to success: including uncertainty over when the next space flight will actually be, worry over whether tickets will sell with their new $450,000 price tag, and growing competition in the industry.
NASA / Unsplash
Sep 302021

Virgin gets the go-ahead

Virgin Galactic stock jumped up 10% in after-hours trading on Wednesday after the space tourism company got the all-clear from the FAA following its investigation into a flight mishap. Richard Branson’s adventure into space has been surrounded by controversy since a little yellow light was spotted in the playback video, attracting the attention of the FAA, which immediately grounded all Virgin space flights pending the outcome. After weeks of waiting and a delayed space mission, the space travel company has finally been given permission to return to the skies. The regulator said:

The investigation found the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicle deviated from its assigned airspace on its descent from space. Virgin Galactic failed to communicate the deviation as required.

Virgin has sincen made changes to its communication systems during spaceflights, and has changed its calculations to avoid the mishap happening again.
Sep 242021

Virgin Galactic shakes up its staff

Virgin Galactic makes a new hire, welcoming Aparna Chitale as its new Chief People Officer.

Aparna Chitale is moving over from Disney (DIS) to join Virgin Galactic to be the company’s new Chief People Officer as of the end of September.
Land Rover MENA / Wikimedia Commons
Sep 202021

Analysts send Virgin rocketing up

Virgin Galactic sees its biggest daily gain since August, lifting nearly 8% as analysts reiterate their confidence in the stock.

Space analysts at both Jefferies and Cowen have reiterated their bullish outlook on Virgin Galactic – the faith was well received, and prices lifted nearly 8% on Friday, its biggest daily gain since the end of August. Despite both lowering their price targets on Virgin to around the $30 mark, both sets of analysts think any current setbacks (an FAA investigation and space mission delays come to mind), the company is set for long-term success and is still seen as an “important leader in the commercial space flight industry”.

Prices ended Friday at $26.42, their highest closing price since August 31.
Sep 162021

Space jam: New competition heads into orbit

Elon Musk’s SpaceX beats Virgin to the punch, launching the first all-civilian commercial space mission on Wednesday.

Elon Musk and his pioneering space exploration company, SpaceX, have gone where no space company has gone before and taken a billionaire and three normies out into the Earth’s orbit in the industry’s first all-civilian mission. The Inspiration4 mission will spend three days in orbit, and will take its guests well above Virgin’s 50-mile maximum to 360 miles above Earth.

While the competition heats up, Virgin continues to be brought down by its flight mishap investigation. Though the FAA hasn’t yet concluded its probe, Virgin Galactic’s reputation has taken a definite hit, and Bank of America has called its failure to disclose the mishap a “culture red flag”. Analysts have already assigned the stock an underperform rating, saying:

Point blank, in our view, it is unacceptable to have an event during a flight that, per FAA regulations, is considered a mishap and then claim that the mission was a full success. The old adage, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, generally is a poor strategy in aviation.

Can Virgin keep up?
Official SpaceX Photos / flickr
Sep 132021

Virgin flags yet another a delay

A component defect in the flight control system forces Virgin Galactic to delay its next space mission.

Despite its insistence that its next commercial space mission would take place within the month despite the ongoing FAA investigation, Virgin Galactic has been forced to delay its upcoming commercial research mission with the Italian Air Force to mid-October at the earliest.

"Unity 23" was to have been the 23rd test flight and first ever commercial mission for Virgin's VSS Unity spaceplane. However, during preparation for the Unity 23 test flight, a third-party supplier flagged a potential manufacturing defect in a component of the flight control actuation system that they supply to Virgin Galactic. At this point, it is not yet known whether the defect is present in the Company’s vehicles and what, if any, repair work may be needed.

Out of an abundance of caution, and in line with Virgin Galactic’s established safety procedures, the Company is in the process of conducting inspections in partnership with the vendor. This issue is unrelated to the Unity 22 flight or the current FAA matter, which is focused on air traffic control clearance and communications.

said Virgin Galactic on 10 September.

The news is unlikely to reassure investors, and stock dropped 2.02% on Friday and a further 3% in Monday morning trading.
Mauricio Artieda / Unsplash
Sep 102021

Virgin is undeterred by the FAA

Virgin Galactic is unfazed by being grounded by the FAA, and still plans to launch its first commercial mission within the next month.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Virgin Galactic flights last week after some potentially damaging details emerged about Richard Branson’s historic journey into orbit. Virgin is undeterred though, and plans continue with its first commercial mission within a month. The company said:

While incidents like these are headline risks and could potentially alter timelines for future flights, SPCE seems hopeful this issue will be resolved in a timely manner, allowing it to continue with its next flight (Unity 23) in late Sept/early Oct 2.
Sep 072021

Virgin bites back against FAA claims

After the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all Virgin Galactic flights following a recently revealed flight mishap, Virgin bites back to call the characterizations “misleading”.

Earlier this week, the FAA grounded all Virgin Galactic flights after some potentially damaging details emerged about Richard Branson’s historic journey into orbit. Virgin Galactic has come out against the claims, saying:

We dispute the misleading characterizations and conclusions. The safety of our crew and passengers is Virgin Galactic's top priority. Our entire approach to spaceflight is guided by a fundamental commitment to safety at every level, including our spaceflight system, our test flight program and our rigorous pilot training protocol.
Sep 032021

Virgin gets grounded

After a flight mishap on Richard Branson's historic trip into orbit that nobody noticed at first, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded all Virgin Galactic flights for an investigation.

Richard Branson's flight into space was dubbed a success by all, but after a little yellow light was recently spotted during the journey the space exploration company admitted that the rocket ship underwent an unexpected change in trajectory – which should have meant that pilots aborted the mission. The FAA started a probe into the mishap, and quickly grounded all Virgin Galactic flights until the investigation is complete, saying:

Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety.

The deviation was minor, but the hit to its reputation could be major.
Sep 012021

Jefferies sees Virgin taking off

Shares of Virgin Galactic take off on the back of bullish analyst commentary out of Jefferies, sending prices up just under 9%.

U.S. investment bank Jefferies initiated coverage on Virgin Galactic stock with a buy rating, reiterating positive views on the space exploration industry as a whole and sending shares up just under 9% on Tuesday. Analyst Greg Konrad gave the stock a price target of $33, up nearly 25% from its Monday closing price of $24.88, citing encouraging consumer interest in space and a recovering economy.

Konrad conducted a survey to suss out what the future might actually hold for space tourism, and found that of the 233 millionaires he asked, nearly 40% want to go to space, and nearly 30% will spend more than 5% of their entire wealth to make the trip. Konrad sees space tourism as potentially a $120 billion market, and believes that Virgin could be bringing in $1.7 billion in revenue by 2030.
Aug 312021

Are investors losing faith in space?

Astra Space fails at its latest mission, sending other space stocks spiralling and losing Virgin Galactic almost 5% on Monday.

After both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin took their billionaire founders to space, it looked as if rocket launches were on a winning streak. However, after the weekend brought news of a failed attempt, investors might be taking another look at their riskier holdings.

Virgin Galactic stock lost 4.5% on Monday after fellow space exploration company Astra Space (ASTR) failed to complete its mission to take a test rocket into orbit on Saturday. The rocket faced “technical difficulties” and one of the five main engines shut down just after a shaky launch. Astra Space (ASTR) shares plummeted just under 19%.

Though there’s no direct link between Virgin and Astra (ASTR), the weekend reminded people of the abundant risks still associated with the new industry.

Virgin Galactic closed the day at $24.88, down over 60% from its February 4 peak of $62.80 as people continue to take a “wait and see” attitude.
Image: SpaceX / Unsplash
Aug 242021

The Virgin family is growing

Richard Branson’s small satellite launch service Virgin Orbit is going public, expanding the Virgin space empire.

Virgin Galactic stock ended the day up just under 4% after one of its siblings, small satellite launch service Virgin Orbit, entered into a reverse merger agreement. After months on the hunt, Virgin Orbit has found its new home coordinates after inking a deal with NextGen Acquisition II Corp to go public, which values the company at $3.2 billion. Virgin Orbit will raise around $483 million in new capital from its merger with the SPAC, and there’s a surprise investor partly to thank – $100 million is coming from U.S. aerospace giant Boeing. Virgin Orbit will use the proceedings to accelerate its launches, planning six next year alone.

Both Virgin Orbit and Virgin Galactic are majority owned by business tycoon Richard Branson’s Virgin empire, which is slowly taking over the burgeoning space exploration market. Despite the excitement, Virgin Galactic shares have been on the decline recently, closing Thursday down over 55% from its end of June peak at $25.44.
NASA / Unsplash
Aug 232021

BofA sees things getting worse for Virgin stock

The post space-flight bliss has well and truly worn off on Virgin Galactic stock, which is facing a price target from Bank of America that is down nearly 40%.

Bank of America on Friday cut its price target on Virgin Galactic stock from $41 to $25, slashing its price by 39% on the back of commercial space flight delays. The company pointed to unexpected and ongoing maintenance on Virgin’s Eve mothership that are going to delay the company’s first commercial space flight to at least Q3 of 2022, way beyond the initial time range, which will lead to lower short term earnings estimates and a lack of short term catalysts for the stock. BofA analyst Ronald Epstein said:

We found particularly surprising the lack of technical details about the planned improvements (only mentioned enhancing structural components) and management commentary about the enhancement still being at a design phase. The delayed commercialization strategy results in lower short-term EPS and FCF estimates.

After peaking at just below $60 at the end of June, Virgin Galactic stock closed Friday at $24.53.
Mark Greenberg / Virgin Galactic
Aug 162021

Branson dumps yet more shares

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson dumps $300 million of his shares, in the hope that the cash might prop up other areas of the Virgin empire that aren’t doing as well.

In his first sale since his trip to the edge of space in July, billionaire Richard Branson has sold around $300 million of his stake in Virgin Galactic, using his biggest listed asset to once again rescue other Virgin segments. The sale equates to around 10.5 million shares and accounts for around 4% of the commercial space exploration company, still leaving him with an 18% stake.

The Virgin Group continues to be the largest single shareholder in Virgin Galactic. intends to use the net proceeds from this sale to support its portfolio of global leisure, holiday and travel businesses that continue to be affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to supporting the development and growth of new and existing businesses.

the company said.

The news comes on the back of a Morgan Stanley downgrade last week, which sent the stock down 12% on Wednesday and left prices down 23% for the week. This is the third time Branson has sold stock to keep the Virgin empire alive after a long battle with COVID.

The stock ended the week at $25.37, down significantly from its February peak of $62.80.
Aug 122021

Virgin Galactic grounded by downgrade

After a post space-flight peak, shares of Virgin Galactic plummet back down to earth with a drop of 20% on the back of a doubtful analyst rating.

It hasn't been long since Virgin Galactic took its CEO Richard Branson to the edge of space, but since then the stock has faced some real turbulence. After trading above $50 on pre-spaceflight excitement, shares have made a not-so-steady descent to just above the $25 mark, further grounded by a recent Morgan Stanley analyst call. Shares of the space exploration company lost just under 13% on Wednesday after Morgan Stanley analyst Kristine Liwag cut her rating on Virgin from Sell to Hold, though she kept her price target steady at $25, down about 20% from Tuesday’s closing price of $31.33 a share.

The rationale behind the downgrade is that the stock has been going through a particularly “catalyst-rich’ period that has taken attention away from the core fundamental strength of the business. She might have a point. The stock has been on a rollercoaster ride the last few months, trading below $15 in May following news of flight-test delays before shooting up on the back of successful flight tests, a commercial carrier licence, and of course the glory of holding the billionaire space race trophy. However, Liwag posits that the hype is over and that the share price will soon more closely reflect the stocks’ fundamental values.

After the expected flight of Unity 23 in September 2021, the company’s sole mothership, Eve, will be grounded for an 8-month enhancement period. During this heavy maintenance period, Virgin Galactic will not be able to conduct any space flights until summer of 2022. We view it positively that the company is investing in increasing its long-term space flight capacity; however, these investments take time,

Liwag wrote.

Virgin is expected to begin commercial flights next year after a few more test flights. The losses continued into Thursday morning, with prices down an additional 3% in morning trading.
Aug 062021

Strong results and a superstar new price tag for SPCE

Virgin Galactic releases its first earnings report as winner of the billionaire space race, re-opening ticket sales at the same time – and with prices starting at $450,000, it’s enough to make anyone see stars.

After sending its founder Richard Branson to the edge of space last month, Virgin Galactic released its second quarter earnings and re-started its spaceflight ticket sales for the first time since December 2018. The commercial spaceflight company reported a loss per share of $0.39 on $571,000 in revenue, compared to estimates of $0.33 in losses per share on $300,000 in revenue. This was the first time Virgin has posted a quarterly revenue since the first quarter of 2020, and analysts note that the space flight company is already a “leader” in the space tourism industry as it stands, offering strong prospects given that the sector is expected to grow into an $8 billion market by 2030.

Not only did Virgin report solid earnings, but it also re-started its commercial spaceflight ticket sales after being forced to halt sales in late 2018 after a spaceship crash. Back then, prices sat at around $200,000, but the new price tag is more than double that. A ticket on a Virgin Galactic spaceflight will cost $450,000 at the lowest price.

In the second quarter, we made meaningful progress towards commencing commercial service in 2022. We successfully completed two spaceflights from New Mexico — the latest carrying a full crew of mission specialists in the cabin and garnering an extraordinary global media and consumer response. In addition, we received FAA approval to expand our existing launch license, marking the first time the FAA has licensed a Spaceline to fly customers to space. Leveraging the surge in consumer interest following the Unity 22 flight, we are excited to announce the reopening of sales effective today, beginning with our Spacefarer community. As we endeavor to bring the wonder of space to a broad global population, we are delighted to open the door to an entirely new industry and consumer experience.”

said Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic.
Jul 212021

Bezos brings out the green-eyed monster

Jealousy knocked shares of Virgin Galactic into the red on Tuesday after Jeff Bezos joined Branson in astronaut status following his successful Blue Origin space flight. The SPCE stock opened down 6% before regaining some of its composure, closing down 1.14% for the day.

Jeff Bezos has finally joined the ranks of billionaires that have been to space, only 11 days after Virgin’s Branson made the journey, but what could be a little spark of jealousy dragged down shares of the commercial travel company 6% at opening and 1.14% for the day. Blue Origin launched its first crewed mission to the edge of space on its New Shepard rocket on Tuesday, leaving Elon Musk to be the richest man on the planet for 10 minutes and 10 seconds as Bezos made the trip to space. He went along with a very lucky eighteen year old, who got what you could modestly call a spoiling from his millionaire father to become the youngest person ever to go to space. A few other honored guests like Bezos’s brother also joined the crew, along with legendary American aviator Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, who broke yet another record to become the oldest person ever to go to space.

The extravagant journey got some backlash here on earth, where people argued that the billionaire could have better spent his money on helping the disadvantaged or treating Amazon (AMZN) workers better. He did thank his Amazon (AMZN) workers and customers though, so that’s something.

We have to do both. We have lots of problems here and now on Earth and we need to work on those and we also need to look to the future, we’ve always done that as a species and as a civilization. We have to do both.

Bezos said when asked about the criticism.
Jul 132021

Virgin Galactic down on share sale

Virgin Galactic comes tumbling back down to earth after all the spaceflight excitement, ending Monday down more than 17% as investors react to its latest plan to sell up to $500 million in shares.

Virgin shares were reaching for a parachute on Monday as they plummeted down almost 18% despite successfully taking its CEO to space the day before. The space tourism company saw excitement lift prices 8% in pre-market trading after Richard Branson soared to space aboard the VSS Unity on Sunday morning, but its gains soon reversed and over $1 billion was wiped off Virgin’s market cap on the back of the company’s plans to sell up to $500 million in common stock.

The share sale would account for 4% of Virgin’s total outstanding shares as of their last close. Investors don't seem too happy, but those frowns could turn upside down after they reap the rewards of the $80 million in deposits (so far) that the company has already collected in ticket sale deposits for its highly anticipated commercial space ride – hey, we’ve heard that even competing space travel mogul Elon Musk is on the waitlist.
Jul 122021

Tech titan takes off

He’s done it! Richard Branson’s 17 year journey towards suborbital space tourism finally comes to a peak as the billionaire rides the VSS Unity all the way out to the edge of space on Sunday morning.

Daredevil entrepreneur Richard Branson has done a lot of things in his life, from (unsuccessfully) attempting to travel the world by hot air balloon to crossing the Atlantic by powerboat in record time. But this weekend he achieved the dream of a lifetime. The Virgin Galactic founder can officially call himself an astronaut, and can also take his place as the winner of the billionaire space race, beating Bezos into space by only 9 days. The tech titan and his crew went hurtling into the skies of New Mexico on Sunday morning, reaching just over 50 miles above the ground and spending a few “magical” moments of weightlessness and beauty before safely landing safely back at Virgin Galactic’s central hub 90 minutes after take-off.

Khalid’s new hit “New Normal” was the soundtrack to the flight, blasting into the astronauts’ ears on the way down and on earth as people cheered. “New Normal” might be right though - the successful flight isn't only a big milestone for Branson, it also represents a huge step towards the age of commercial space tourism.

Branson wasn’t the only one to head into space on Sunday, by the way. TradingView did a little rocket launch of our own, sending SPCE up into orbit and proving that yes, you really can chart anywhere. That’s some view.
We heard @richardbranson and @jeffbezos were heading to space. So we decided to do the same.
Jul 092021

Branson shoots for the stars

Virgin Galactic stock is star-bound, as will be its founder Richard Branson this Sunday. Prices end the day up 17% as excitement rockets.

The billionaire space race finale is upon us and pre-curtain call excitement is sending Virgin stock to the stars, probably as investors hope for a repeat of rapid gains that test flights are known to cause - with its new VIP guest, this one is bound to have many more eyes on the liftoff. It was been many a year of back and forth between Branson and Bezos, who both began developing rockets in the early 2000s that aimed to take the ultra-rich thrillseekers of the world on quick trips to the outside of the world. Recently there has been a whole lot of chatter over who might be the first suborbital billionaire, the VG founder is finally making the trip this Sunday.

Branson will kickstart the space tourism industry with his mission on Sunday, taking a rocket-powered space plane on a 2,400 mile-per-hour trip to the edge of space. The pioneering flight will take place on the VSS Unity, marking the twenty-second test flight for the rocket and the company’s fourth crewed spaceflight, and is due to escape the pulls of gravity and be suborbital over the New Mexico desert early on Sunday morning. The entire show is expected to take about 90 minutes from takeoff to landing. The company was given the green light by regulators last month to operate a commercial service, and Branson has already signalled that he’s hoping to use this flight as an unofficial launch of that service.

A return to ticket sales will be a big financial shot in the arm for VG, which had to halt selling tickets after its back and forth between Branson and Jeff Bezos, who both began developing rockets in the early 2000s with the aim of taking the ultra-rich thrillseekers of the world on quick trips to the stars. Recently there has been a whole lot of chatter over who might be the first suborbital billionaire, and the Virgin billionaire is finally space-bound this Sunday.

Branson will kickstart the commercial space tourism industry with his mission, taking a rocket-powered space plane on a 2,400 mile-per-hour trip to the edge of space. The pioneering flight will take place on the VSS Unity, marking the 22nd test flight for the rocket and the company’s fourth crewed spaceflight, and is due to escape the pulls of gravity and be suborbital over the New Mexico desert early on Sunday morning. The entire show is expected to take about 90 minutes from takeoff to landing. The company was given the green light by regulators last month to operate a commercial service, and Branson has already signalled that he’s hoping to use this flight as an unofficial launch of that service.

A return to ticket sales will be a big financial shot in the arm for Virgin Galactic, which had to halt selling tickets after a 2014 rocket disaster saw one of its commercial space tourism crafts crash into the Californian desert and kill a pilot.

If successful, it will probably go some way towards reassuring wealthy potential space tourists that they might even get back in one piece, should they choose to take the trip.
Jul 052021

Can Branson beat out Bezos?

The billionaire space race is getting seriously tight, as Virgin Galactic announces that its next spaceflight on July 11 will carry founder Richard Branson into orbit – beating close competitor Jeff Bezos, who is also aiming for the stars. Prices pop 20% in the first hour of Friday trading, and end the day 4% up.

Richard Branson’s space baby, Virgin Galactic, saw its stock pop on Friday morning on the back of news that Branson could head into space as early as July 11 – nine days earlier than Jeff Bezos, who plans to take off with his own company, Blue Origin, on July 20.

After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good. I’m honored to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin,

said Branson.

Virgin Galactic previously said that it would conduct three more space flights before flying passengers in early 2022, and that the second of those three tests would carry Richard Branson. However, there’s since been a switch up in the order of things, and not long after billionaire rival Bezos announced his July 20 plans, Branson put his name on the list for July 11. We’re sure it was a complete coincidence and it had nothing to do with Branson wanting to be the first billionaire in space.

SPCE investors have already spent the year on a rocket – stock has more than doubled in 2021 so far, though it has also seen some wild highs and lows, soaring to $60 a share in February before swinging back down near $15 in May and rebounding to close at $43.19 before popping up again on the latest news to end the day 4.05% higher at $44.94.
Jun 282021

One step closer to space for Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is finally allowed to take paying passengers to space – and it’s taking the stock price with them, as prices soar nearly 40% on Friday.

It looks like we could be reaching the final furlong of the billionaire space race, and Virgin Galactic isn't slowing down any. After losing nearly 30% in April on the back of missed deadlines and failed space tests, Virgin has got its head back in the game and is approaching levels not seen since its peak in February.

Investors ended their week with a bang as prices closed at $55.91, marking a four-fold increase from its low point in mid-May after U.S. regulators got on board. The Federal Aviation Administration gave Virgin Galactic its full commercial launch licence after a successful May test flight, meaning that customers can now go into space. Obviously, Branson’s space baby was allowed to operate its own spacecraft, but now it can do so on a commercial level and charge passengers for the pleasure. Who’s in?

We’re incredibly pleased with the results of our most recent test flight, which achieved our stated flight-test objectives. Today’s approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer.

said CEO Michael Colglazier.

The competition has been heating up for a while now, but billionaire Bezos added an edge earlier in June when he announced that he would be on a flight to the edge of space on July 20. Not one to be beaten to the punch, Branson too said he would be on his way to space soon – and this licence is one step closer to getting him there. But who’s gonna make it first?

There are big egos at play here. They are three of the most iconic entrepreneurs and all used to winning. Jeff is not used to being second or third. Elon is a gambler. He’s risked it all a number of times,

commented Brad Stone, author of “Amazon Unbound: Jeff ­Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire”.

Keep watching the skies – they’re filling up fast.
Jun 152021

Virgin goes into Orbit with SPAC plans

Branson is adding to the Virgin empire as his space enterprise takes off – the billionaire is in talks to take its spin-off Virgin Orbit public, via a $3 billion SPAC.

The name “Virgin” has been splashed across headlines recently as billionaires Bezos and Branson race to be the first in space. Now apparently Branson is looking at looking at taking a VG spin-off, Virgin Orbit, public at around a $3 billion valuation through a SPAC with a former Goldman Sachs banker.

Virgin Orbit is a satellite-launching spin-off of the space tourism company, privately held mostly by the Virgin group, and focuses on launching satellites for businesses and governments. The company has already helped NASA add to its growing outer space satellite army with a rocket launched satellite earlier this year, and hopes to carry on offering cheap, flexible, in-air satellite services after going public.

Rumor has it that Branson is in the final stages of talks with NextGen Acquisition II, led by Goldman and PerkinElmer allum, to take the pioneering company public via a deal with a blank-cheque vehicle – there’s hope that a more official announcement will come out in the next few weeks, so watch this space. NextGen raised $350 million in its IPO in March and has secured more funding since then, giving it a total of around $383 million to push into the scaling of Virgin Orbit’s business.

British business magnate Richard Branson is somewhat of an expert in the SPAC world, having taken a bunch of companies down that road in recent years, including Virgin Galactic, and he’s made hundreds of millions through blank-cheque companies. So things could look good for Orbit.
Jun 092021

Space race

Some people buy a lakehouse when they retire – some, apparently, go to space. The world’s billionaires are in a space race of their own, and Virgin Galactic reaps the rewards this week with a price jump of 18%.

It’s the battle of the billionaires and Richard Branson’s baby, Virgin Galactic, is currently on the winning end of a fiery competition between its CEO and Jeff Bezos. Blue Origin founder Bezos announced on Monday that he would be among the first people to go to the edge of space on the company’s new spaceship. Though Branson quickly jumped on the “Congratulations” train, he also promptly warned his followers to “watch this space”.

Things heated up when reports hit that VG was working on a plan that’d put Branson aboard the very next rocket: due to take flight on the 4th of July weekend. Blue Origin is due to take off on July 20, so at the moment it’s looking like Branson might have stolen a march on Bezos. Unless he can hitch a ride to space in the next three weeks...

Who doesn't love a bit of healthy competition?
May 242021

We have lift-off

Virgin Galactic, and its share price, is shooting for the stars. The company ended the week with a sweet 20% increase as its next Spaceflight test finally took place over the weekend.

Virgin Galactic stock shot up with a 15% increase on Thursday as the space tourism company shared that it had completed the maintenance review of its carrier aircraft and would be holding its next spaceflight on Saturday, May 22. The news was received with enthusiasm and investors breathed a sigh of relief, as Virgin Galactic had warned earlier this month that the flight could be further delayed, knocking 20% of its share price.

All of the fuss is to complete development of the company’s SpaceShipTwo system, and there are four test flights left before commercial travel can even begin. After two rescheduled trips, seems like the third time’s a charm, and this time we finally got lift-off on May 22. Two pilots took Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity out on the open air, marking its first successful flight in two years. Richard Branson isn't the only billionaire bouncing into commercial space travel, so he’d better hurry up and get his new baby on its feet – because Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin recently completed its own testflight, and Elon Musks’ SpaceX has already announced its first all-civilian mission to space.

We think our experience will be one that people prefer, but obviously we’ll have competition. We believe the market is gigantic out there, so neither of us will ever be able to build enough spaceships to cope with demand.

said Richard Branson.
May 102021

Will we ever see Virgin in space?

Virgin Galactic stock falls back to earth after bigger losses than expected in Q1, and there’s still no update on its upcoming spaceflight test.

It doesn’t look like Richard Branson’s space baby is off to the moon anytime soon, and it just posted yet another bad earnings report. The company reported a first quarter loss of $0.55, down from a loss of $1.86 per share the same period last year, and very much missing the mark on estimates, which were looking for a loss per share of $0.27. Its adjusted EBITDA loss was $55.9 million, down slightly from the $63.6 it reported last quarter, but still a disappointement. As with the prior quarter, VG reported a whole $0 in revenue, and as of the end of Q1 only has about $617 million in cash on hand, down from $666 million in Q4 of last year. Shares lost almost 9% in anticipation of the release, and fell a further 7% in after hours trading.

In terms of operations, the space company still hasn’t yet set a target date for its upcoming spaceflight – originally planned for this month. Mike Moses, President of Space Missions (man, that’s some job title) said on Monday’s call with investors that the uncertainty facing its spaceflight test stemmed largely from “a potential wear-and-tear issue” that the company identified last week on the aircraft that carries the spacecraft before launch, the VMS Eve. The part in question was due for maintenance in the Fall, but the aircraft is still being studied to see what action is needed.

Virgin Galactic stock is down 24% year to date, having fallen swiftly from its highs of $60 in February. Losses were accelerated because of continued delays to its test program, along with share sales from Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder Richard Branson, and Cathie Wood’s Space ETF debut. However, the fourth spaceflight test is expected to bring in $2 million in revenue, so hopefully things will be looking up soon.

“We continue to make strides towards our strategic objectives and have solid momentum as we focus on completing our flight test program,”

said CEO Michael Colglazier.

“We are committed to delivering one of the world's most unique and transformational customer experiences, with safety at the core of everything we do. Our greatest asset is our incredibly talented group of employees, and the strength of the leadership team we have assembled for the next phase of our journey."

Uh huh.
May 062021

Houston, we have a problem...

Virgin Galactic stock plummets almost 10% on news that its rival, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin (oh, we do love a billionaire throwdown), will be making its first human test flight in July. Bet Branson’s glad he got rid of all that stock last month.

It's the Space Race 2.0, except this time it’s two tycoons racing it out to the moon – and it looks like Bezos might be winning. His rocket company, Blue Origin, announced on Wednesday that it’s aiming to do its first suborbital sightseeing trip on the New Shepard spacecraft – a landmark moment in the competition to usher in a new era of private (and, at a guess, highly lucrative) commercial space travel. The company also announced the auction of one seat on the trip, and prices are already going stratospheric – expected to reach up to $500k (and cheap at the price – just think of the Insta pics!)

Shares of Virgin Galactic originally gained slightly as people clicked that if Origin Blue could make half a mill on a seat, Virgin probably could too. Ka-ching. But eventually, the prospect that Blue Origin could cancel out Virgin Galactic’s first-mover advantage in the space tourism market sank shares by over 4%.

“Blue Origin threw down the gauntlet on positioning itself to be (potentially) the first suborbital space tourism company with a paying passenger,”

wrote UBS analyst Myles Walton in a note to investors.

Virgin Galactic’s space plane, called SpaceShipTwo (original, huh?) and flown by two pilots, has carried humans to space in test flights before, but has yet to take any paying passengers, making Origin Blue the first. In February, Virgin also decided to postpone a few of SpaceShipTwo’s test flights from February to May, delaying the forecasted launch of its commercial services to 2022. That’s around about the same time most of its competitors are planning to debut commercial space flights, so you can see why investors are kinda worried about the firm falling behind. Even founder Richard Branson seems a little nervous, unloading $150 million in Virgin Galactic stock in April, leaving him with 24% of the stake and sending stocks falling back to earth.

The share price has lost over 19% this year, erasing its earlier gains from February, when it almost doubled to above $60 a share.
Apr 162021

Richard Branson dumps shares

Virgin Galactic is falling back down to earth, erasing its 2021 gains with a 12% loss following news that founder Richard Branson just dumped $150 million in shares.

Sir Richard Branson, who already controls the rest of the Virgin group, took the space tourism company (which has yet to take a tourist to space) public in 2019 through a SPAC merger with Chamath Palihapitiya's venture Social Capital Hedosophia. But the billionaire is having to tap back into his biggest listed asset to prop up his Virgin empire during COVID-19. Branson sold over $150 million worth of stock over the past week, adding to the $500 million he dumped last year in the face of the pandemic.

Virgin intends to use the net proceeds from this sale to support its portfolio of global leisure, holiday and travel businesses that continue to be affected by the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, in addition to supporting the development and growth of new and existing businesses

Virgin Group said.

The whole group has taken a hit, with its airlines getting the worst of it – Virgin Atlantic was forced to cut 3,500 of its 10,000 employees, although it did receive a £1.2 billion rescue plan that should help secure its future.

Branson isn't the only exec who has reduced his stake in Virgin Galactic though. In early March, chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sold his entire remaining stake for over $200 million to invest in climate change technology. Prices were already feeling the pressure last week, down almost 10% at the start after one of its main competitors, Jeff Bezos' private space company Blue Origin, launched and landed the 15th successful test flight of its New Shepard rocket booster and capsule.

Virgin Galactic has plans to fly Richard Branson into space in early 2021, but announced on its most recent earnings call that it had postponed its commercial space travel until 2022. All is not lost though, as the company already has a backlog of around 600 customer reservations for tickets (sold for up to $250,000 per person) and has started taking deposits, so clearly people are full of faith.

For us to make the business start to scale, at the places that we’re aspiring towards, we need two things: We need many more ships than we have right now and we also need the ships that we bring forward to be built in a way that they’re able to be maintained in a way that we can have much quicker than what we have with Unity

said CEO Michael Colglazier.
NMA/Jarle Naustvik / Flickr