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Why Virgin Galactic Stock Popped on Monday Morning

By Rich Smith - Feb 8, 2021 at 10:28AM

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Another flight test is imminent. But the surge of optimism that engendered was brief.

What happened

Virgin Galactic (SPCE 3.30%) stock spiked 6.5% higher in its opening trades Monday. However, just 15 minutes into the trading day, the stock was only up by 2%, and as of 10:22, its gains had evaporated and the shares were trading about flat compared to where they closed last week. It seemed investors could hardly wait to react to the news the company released over the weekend -- but on further reflection, waiting might be the better choice.

So what

On Saturday, Virgin Galactic reminded investors of its upcoming spaceplane test flight, putting out a tweet confirming that it has "completed pre-flight checks on SpaceShipTwo Unity's feather ahead of our upcoming flight."

To refresh your memory, the flight window for the test in question opens on Feb. 13. In this next attempt, Virgin hopes to demonstrate that it has fixed whatever prevented its previous test flight in December from reaching space. Success this time would set the stage for a second test flight that could take place later this month ... and then a test flight that would feature company founder Sir Richard Branson as a passenger ... and then, finally, the beginning of commercial space tourism flights.

Cartoon rocket zooming up like a stock on a chart

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Investors and space fans responded with a chorus of cheers on Twitter over the weekend:

But while I sympathize with the excitement, it's worth pointing out: We still have to wait until at least Saturday -- if not longer -- to see if this flight takes off. The flight window opening doesn't necessarily mean that spaceplane VSS Unity will in fact fly Saturday. Weather or other complicating factors may push back the attempt by a day or three.

And of course, there's also the risk that this test might fail just like the last one did. Investors might want to wait and see if it works before getting too worked up over Virgin Galactic stock.

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