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Why Virgin Galactic Stock Keeps Dropping

By Rich Smith – Dec 13, 2021 at 8:14AM

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While Virgin remains grounded, Blue Origin just completed its third space flight.

What happened

Shares of space tourism pioneer Virgin Galactic (SPCE -1.44%) slipped lower for a third straight day on Monday, falling 3.2% as of 12:35 p.m. ET as investors seemed to conclude that what's good news for the industry in general may not necessarily be good news for Virgin Galactic in particular.

Sometimes, it's just good news for somebody else -- like Blue Origin.

VSS Imagine side view.

Virgin Galactic's VSS Imagine is a pretty spaceplane -- but investors think it'd look prettier in space. Image source: Virgin Galactic.

So what

Over the weekend, Virgin Galactic archrival in space tourism Blue Origin launched its third successful space tourism flight. Unlike the two previous flights, this one was maxed out with a full complement of six passengers, as Laura Shepard Churchley, Michael Strahan, Evan Dick, Dylan Taylor, Cameron Bess, and Lane Bess safely flew to the edge of space and back Saturday.  

The flight brings the total number of tourists who've flown with Blue Origin to 14, versus just six for Virgin Galactic. The scoreboard on successful flights likewise favors Blue over Virgin: 3-1.

Now what

Heading into 2022, Blue Origin says it is "planning several crewed and payload flights," extending its lead over Virgin Galactic's business. In contrast, at last report, Virgin had postponed a planned fall 2021 flight for Italian Air Force pilots into mid-2022 and wasn't anticipating the commencement of actual tourist flights until late 2022.  

By that point, of course, there will be little question that Virgin Galactic is playing second banana to Blue Origin. The bigger question will be whether Blue Origin decides to capitalize on its lead by IPO'ing the company this year, giving it access to even more financial resources with which to beat its rival about the head and shoulders.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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