Virgin Galactic Stock Takes Off on Successful Test Flight

It’s been over two years since Virgin Galactic’s (NYSE: SPCE) last test flight, but the company just pulled off a major milestone over the weekend. Virgin Galactic completed its third spaceflight on Saturday, inspiring space enthusiasts and investors alike.

The news also sent Virgin Galactic shares into the stratosphere, with the stock up 18% as of 12 p.m. EST Monday.

Here’s what Virgin Galactic investors need to know.

Liftoff

The spacecraft, known as VSS Unity, was able to reach Mach 3 after being released from the mothership, VMS Eve. VSS Unity achieved an altitude of 55.45 miles with human pilots CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay aboard, before returning to Earth. The Unity is capable of carrying up to six passengers in addition to the pilots, and Virgin Galactic has ambitious plans for commercial space travel and tourism.

“Space travel is a bold and adventurous endeavor, and I am incredibly proud of our talented team for making the dream of private space travel a reality,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement. “We will immediately begin processing the data gained from this successful test flight, and we look forward to sharing news on our next planned milestone.”

The company also delivered a scientific payload as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, generating a small amount of revenue in the process. Virgin Galactic will now proceed to review and analyze all of the test data that was gathered from the mission and move on to the next milestone.

The announcement comes months after Virgin Galactic had to abort the previous test flight due to an issue related to engine ignition. Virgin Galactic stock plummeted back in December following that aborted mission.

One small step closer to commercialization

The successful flight is an important milestone on Virgin Galactic’s path towards commercialization. The company remains in the development phase and reported no revenue in the first quarter, leading to a net loss of $130 million. Virgin Galactic had $617 million in cash at the end of March, which will help fund operations for many quarters.

Virgin Galactic must achieve two more milestones before securing regulatory clearance from the FAA to commence regular flights. Billionaire founder Sir Richard Branson plans to ride on one of the forthcoming test flights, which is around the time that Virgin Galactic plans to re-open ticket sales.

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Evan Niu, CFA has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. Millennial Money is part of The Motley Fool network. Millennial Money has a disclosure policy.

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