Virgin Galactic Stock Plunges 20% After Commercial Spaceflights Delayed

Virgin Galactic’s (NYSE:SPCE) share price dropped 20% after the company announced that it is delaying the beginning of its commercial space tourism service to the fourth quarter of 2022.

The space tourism company says it is refurbishing and improving its spacecraft and carrier aircraft, a process that is expected to last eight to 10 months – with completion expected between June and August of next year.

With the work on Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft VSS Unity and carrier aircraft VMS Eve beginning this month, the process makes mid-2022 the earliest that the Unity 23 could fly again.

Shares of Virgin Galactic dropped 20% in premarket trading on the news. The stock was up just 1% for 2021 prior to the latest decline.

Virgin Galactic had two more spaceflights scheduled – Unity 24 and Unity 25, with the latter representing the launch of commercial service – for the third quarter of 2022, but those no longer have launch dates.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had grounded Virgin Galactic for most of the last month to investigate a mishap that occurred during the flight that carried company founder Sir Richard Branson into space this past summer.

The FAA has now cleared Virgin Galactic to return to flight after completing its investigation.