What happened

Virgin Galactic (SPCE -0.57%) was anything but ascendant on Wednesday. The space tourism company's stock slumped by over 5% following pronouncements about a future trip from its most high-profile figure. Unfortunately, that person was discussing a trip on a rival's spacecraft.

So what

Earlier on Wednesday, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson told CNBC that he aims to hop on board a flight operated by the other famous space tourism operator, the Elon Musk creation SpaceX. The idea seems to be that the two publicity-hungry entrepreneurs will trade flights.

Richard Branson floating weightless in a Virgin Galactic spacecraft.

Image source: Virgin Galactic.

"Hopefully, I'll be able to go up on one of his spaceships one day, and he'll be able to go up on one of ours," Branson mused.

It seems that Musk, better known to many for being the frequently tweeting, highly opinionated CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, already has a spot on a Virgin Galactic jaunt. Branson said the younger businessman purchased a ticket "a long time ago," although it wasn't clear exactly when this occurred.

Now what

Investors likely took Branson's rather cavalier comments as a lack of confidence in Virgin Galactic's operations. The company's investors are already a bit skittish, following delays that have left its fleet grounded and pushed back the official launch of its core space tourism service (now slated, somewhat optimistically, for the fourth quarter of this year).

Branson has always been fairly brash -- in fact, well before Musk hit the scene he was known as one of the world's most irreverent and outspoken business leaders. So his SpaceX comments are entirely in character, although shareholders are probably wishing he'd found a way to keep those plans to himself.