What happened

Shares of Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) popped nearly 7% in early trading Tuesday, and remain up a respectable 4.2% around noon EDT.

Why did this happen? Your guess is as good as anyone else's.

Green arrow trending up over the numerals 2021

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

There's no analyst news at all out on Virgin Galactic today -- no upgrades, no downgrades, nothing. Press release activity from the company itself is similarly crickets, and the only thing Virgin has so much as tweeted today is the opening of applications for Summer 2021 internships.  

Those should be pretty fun, assuming Virgin Galactic is running regular flights to space and back by then. And it could happen. Virgin has its next test flight on the WhiteKnightTwo spaceplane scheduled for later this month, and at last report was expecting to fly company founder Sir Richard Branson to space in the first quarter of 2021 -- well before the summer begins.

Branson has previously promised to fly aboard the spaceplane personally, and test its safety himself, before taking money from any other passengers. If all goes well, Virgin Galactic could be a revenue-generating, profit-making business by summer 2021.

Now what

Of course, that's what we used to say about 2020, but Branson has yet to fly, and Virgin Galactic ended up posting zero revenue last quarter. Until one of those two things changes, expect Virgin Galactic stock to trade mostly on investor sentiment about when they will change -- rising one day, and falling the next.

The rest of this year promises to be bumpy. Here's hoping for a smoother incline in 2021.

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.