Virgin Galactic to Launch Next Flight Saturday, Shares Take Flight

Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) stock jumped after the space tourism company announced its next spaceflight test is targeting Saturday, following the completion of a maintenance review of its carrier aircraft.

The stock was getting hit on concerns Virgin Galactic would delay this spaceflight test from this month, with the company having previously said it would launch in May. A delay would have compounded issues that have put the stock under pressure in recent months, including increased competition from Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

"Following a detailed inspection and thorough analysis of our mothership, Eve, we have cleared our Spaceflight System for our upcoming flight," Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said.

Virgin Galactic leadership, when the company reported first quarter results last week, revealed that the target date for the next spaceflight test was under evaluation due to a possible maintenance issue with VMS Eve, the aircraft that carries the spacecraft before launch. The company said on Thursday its engineering analysis determined the VMS Eve “structures healthy,” clearing the aircraft for flight.

The company is working to complete development of its SpaceShipTwo system, with four test flights remaining before Virgin Galactic begins commercial service in 2022.

Virgin Galactic attempted the first of those four spaceflight tests in December, but the mission was cut short by an engine anomaly. The company scheduled a repeat of the flight attempt for February, but then delayed to May to give more time to address an electromagnetic interference issue with the spacecraft’s flight computer.

SPCE shares soared $2.26, or 13.1%, to $19.53.