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Why Virgin Galactic Stock Just Took Off

By Rich Smith - Feb 11, 2021 at 12:14PM

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The next test flight is on for Saturday.

What happened

It's official. Virgin Galactic's (SPCE -6.48%) next test flight is on for Saturday -- and Virgin Galactic stock is off to the races again.  

According to a temporary notice to airmen (NOTAM) filed with the Federal Aviation Administration today, flying airplanes around Spaceport America in New Mexico will be restricted from 9 a.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 13 through 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 14.

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

Image source: Virgin Galactic.

So what

Virgin Galactic first confirmed on Feb. 1 that it has opened a Feb. 13 flight window over the New Mexico desert for its next test flight of the VMS Eve mothership and VSS Unity spaceplane. Ever since then, Virgin Galactic stock has wobbled up and down as investors watched the company make preparations for this flight, the first since the company's failed attempt to reach space in December.

Opening a window, of course, doesn't necessarily mean that the plane will fly on the very first day of the window, however, but today's notice to the FAA confirms that this is the plan.

On Saturday, or Sunday at the latest, Virgin Galactic's trouble twins will once again take to the air. VMS Eve will fly to altitude, release VSS Unity to fly under its own power, and the latter will attempt to rocket to the edge of space, then turn around and land safely back on Earth.

Now what

And what happens then? Assuming all goes swimmingly with this flight test, Virgin will attempt to conduct a second VSS Unity flight test later in the month, finally wrapping up its flight test schedule.

At that point, it should be all systems go for Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson to take his own trip to space, and then... actual revenue-generating commercial flights!

No wonder investors are excited.

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