Virgin Galactic (SPCE) could redo a test flight of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle as early as Saturday, a key step needed before commercial flights can start. SPCE stock rose.
The test comes after the space tourism company aborted a powered flight on Dec. 12, when it failed to hit important milestones due to a sudden halt in the rocket motor’s ignition sequence.
Management has said that the next powered flight will test the work that has been done since the aborted flight.
“The team has installed the hybrid rocket motor into SpaceShipTwo Unity as part of preflight preparations for our flight test window opening this week. Thanks to Senior Propulsion Engineer, and New Mexico native, Rich C De Baca, for the video walk-through!” pic.twitter.com/gXW3PMDa7V
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) February 8, 2021
The test will also include the original objectives from the December flight, which was supposed to complete data-gathering for the final two FAA verification and validation milestones.
Those milestones are needed before SpaceShipTwo can be cleared for commercial flights.
In addition, the customer cabin as well as upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls will be evaluated.
Test Priced Into SPCE Stock?
Virgin Galactic shares rose 7.3% to 56.20 on the stock market today. SPCE stock was among heavily shorted stocks that saw interest from retail investors in January and has more than doubled since the start of the year.
Shares of Boeing (BA), whose venture capital arm has invested in Virgin Galactic, fell 1.1%.
Wall Street has been extremely bullish on the company despite it not having started commercial service or earned any revenue. The majority of analysts still have a buy rating on SPCE stock, but some are getting skittish.
UBS downgraded Virgin Galactic stock to neutral from buy on Wednesday on a “mindful” approach to valuation. Analyst Myles Walton wrote that he thinks a successful test flight by Virgin Galactic is already priced into its share price. UBS now has a price target of 52 on the stock.
Follow Gillian Rich on Twitter for space news and more.
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