Virgin Galactic shares drop as company delays upcoming spaceflight test

Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft Unity prepares for flight.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic shares dropped after the company on Friday delayed its next spaceflight test, which was scheduled for this weekend.

“We have been progressing through our pre-flight preparations and, during that process, we have decided to allow more time for technical checks. We are working to identify the next flight opportunity,” the company said in a statement. 

Virgin Galactic’s stock fell as much as 9% in premarket trading from its previous close of $59.41 a share.

The stock had jumped 13% the day before, after a notice from the FAA indicated the spaceflight test was on track to launch as early as Saturday. The company had confirmed on Thursday that it was “making good progress through our flight preparations,” but noted at the time that the flight attempt was still pending technical readiness.

The spaceflight test is a redo of the December attempt the company aborted mid-launch. Virgin Galactic spent two months analyzing the cause of the abort and carrying out ground testing, with the test flight set to check “the remedial work that has been completed.”

While only two pilots will be on board, the flight is expected to be the first of three in a series as the company seeks to finish development of its spacecraft system.

The stock has more than doubled since the beginning of 2021, a move which earlier this week caused UBS to lower its rating on the stock to neutral. UBS said in a note to clients that “we’re mindful of valuation that appears full,” even though upcoming test flights create an appealing “catalyst chain.”

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