What happened

Shares of Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) are in a tailspin. After topping $24 a share ahead of earnings on Monday, the stock has fallen 18% since earnings came out, and as of 2:20 p.m. EDT, Virgin Galactic shares are down another 4% today.

So what

Why are investors shunning Virgin this week? Let me count the ways.

There's the fact that the company lost $0.30 per share last quarter, and the fact that it had no revenues whatsoever. There's the big 20.5 million-share stock issuance Virgin announced to raise cash to fund its continuing losses -- and the very strong likelihood that those losses will continue through at least the first quarter of 2021 (when company founder Sir Richard Branson says he will finally take his first flight aboard Virgin's VSS Unity spaceplane).

Boy in jetpack stares  at the sky.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Because commercial flights aren't set to begin until the British billionaire has taken Unity for a spin himself, that means probably no revenue will be coming in until later next year.

Result: Investors who've been banking on Virgin Galactic's promises to begin commercial operations this year and turn profitable in 2021 are feeling they've been burned. While Virgin still could become profitable as it promised, it's now clear that that's going to take a bit longer than expected.

Today, it seems at least some investors are losing patience. Not everyone's willing to wait around forever to see Virgin take off.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.