What happened

Volatile space stock Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE) is rewarding investors once again on Wednesday, rising 8.7% through 12:15 p.m. EST on no obvious news -- or at least, no obviously new news.

Two days ago, a tweet from the space tourism pioneer emphasized to investors that its recently postponed flight-test schedule could be back on track in short order. The New Mexico health order that froze Virgin's operations two Mondays ago was set to expire just two weeks later. That means that, technically at least, Virgin could be back in business as early as Nov. 30.

And it seems investors today are optimistic that it will be.

VSS Unity and VMS Eve on the ground with a sunrise in the background

Virgin Galactic aircraft. Image source: Virgin Galactic.

So what

Unless you live there, I suspect that few investors keep close track of coronavirus trends in the State of New Mexico. But if you're an investor in Virgin Galactic, which plans to operate its space tourism flights out of Spaceport America in that state, it might be a good idea to bookmark this page.

Why? Because trends in COVID-19 infections reported by New Mexico are diving steadily lower. New cases reported Tuesday, for example, were down 30% from what was reported on Friday. This is good news for Virgin Galactic because the longer this trend continues, the more likely it is that when the health order expires on Nov. 30, the company will be able to get back to business.

Now what

Just don't get too irrationally exuberant. Remember that Virgin Galactic only promised to complete "preparation" for its next test flight once the health order expires. It will take time after that preparation for the test flight to take place. And more time for the next test flight after that, and more time for Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson to take his test flight. And then, finally, Virgin Galactic has to decide it's safe to begin flying paying customers, generating revenue and, hopefully, profits.

Only then will we know for certain how good a business Virgin Galactic might be. Only then will we know for sure if this space company might turn out to be a profitable investment.

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.