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Why Virgin Galactic Stock Can't Get Off the Ground

By Rich Smith - Feb 16, 2021 at 11:54AM

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Saturday's test flight didn't happen, and we've got no idea when it might.

What happened

Shares of Virgin Galactic Holdings (SPCE 4.69%) stock lost 8% of their value Friday, after the space tourism company admitted it won't be starting up space tours quite as soon as hoped.

In a surprise announcement, the company confided Friday that "we have decided to allow more time for technical checks" before proceeding with a space test flight of its VSS Unity spaceplane that had been scheduled to take place Saturday or Sunday.

Four days later, there's still no update from the company on exactly how much time it's going to need, and Virgin Galactic stock is down another 6% (as of 10:45 a.m. EST).

So what

Any stock traders who had hoped to profit on a spike in share price had the flight test gone well are understandably disappointed today. Longer-term investors, however, probably should be taking this news in stride.

After all, flight delays are far from unheard of in the space industry -- and far better than flight test mishaps. It's also worth remembering that while Virgin Galactic has had an undeniable run of bad luck in getting its flight tests to space since relocating to New Mexico, the company has already sent VSS Unity to space -- twice -- flying out of the Mojave.    

VSS Unity on the tarmac.

Image source: Virgin Galactic.

Now what

Long story short, the spaceplane works. It's been proven to work repeatedly. It's just that, as the company gets closer and closer to putting the lives of paying passengers on the line, it wants to make sure all the kinks are worked out of the system, and that VSS Unity is as failsafe as it can possibly be made to be.

If that takes a few extra weeks to make sure of, I hardly think it's reason to panic about the stock.

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