Virgin Galactic is perhaps the only significant space exploration and tourism company that has a publicly-listed stock. The company continues to battle several challenges, both from an operational and a financial standpoint. However, recently, there were some big moves in the latter, with the company seeing significant gains in its stock price.
Money Moves for Weeks Now
On Thursday, the stock of Virgin Galactic Holdings Plc. (SPCE) surged by 2.71 percent, enjoying a boost from the general stock market. As markets tanked throughout the past week, several companies have been primed for a return to profitable status. Virgin Galactic was one such company, and it saw significant gains on the day.
Currently, Virgin Galactic's stock is trading for about $29.58. The stock price is still down for the month, but investors remain optimistic about a potential growth in the form's operation that could drive the stock even higher.
The jump is also especially great for Virgin Galactic, which has had to weather some significant storms of late. Weeks ago, Chamath Palihapitiya, the notable venture capitalist who serves as the board chairman at Virgin Galactic, sent the stock tumbling when he confirmed that he had sold his personal stake in the firm.
In a statement to news sources, Palihapitiya said: "I sold 6M shares for $200M which I am planning to redirect into a large investment I am making towards fighting climate change. The details of this investment will be made public in the next few months. I remain as dedicated as ever to Virgin Galactic's team, mission and prospects."
The investor already sold 3.8 million shares in December 2020, noting that the sale was for him to manage his liquidity to provide funding for some of his planned projects in 2021. At the time, he explained that he was still highly committed to Virgin Galactic's work in the future.
It is worth noting that Palihapitiya still holds a 6.2 percent ownership stake in Virgin Galactic through his partnership with Ian Osbourne, a fellow investor. Nevertheless, such a massive sale immediately triggered fellow investors as it seemed that something was wrong. Virgin Galactic has a long history of making moves in the dark, and with the company in a tough spot, investors could take any sudden steps to mean trouble.
Excitement Over Incoming SpaceShip Three
One of the most prominent drivers of a stock surge could be Virgin Galactic's operational fleet developments. Investors are excited as the company is gearing up to announce SpaceShip Three - the latest expansion of its sprawling fleet.
In a conference call from last month, the company confirmed its plans to roll out the first of its SpaceShip Three fleet at the end of March. The rocket will be built with a modular design, so it will be able to switch out and reconfigure some of the ship's parts. SpaceShip Three will also act as a base for several of the spaceships that Virgin Galactic plans to launch and add to its fleet in the future.
So far, Virgin Galactic has kept most of the details concerning SpaceShip Three under wraps. However, we do know that it was built with an enhanced assembly and fabrication process. Virgin Galactic claims that the process will help the SpaceShip Three perform much better for maintenance and in-flight purposes.
As for the aesthetics and interior appearance, even less is known. Virgin Galactic posted a teaser image of the SpaceShip Three on Twitter, but it only showed glimpses of the rocket's interior. However, it is expected that the spaceship will have many of the same cabin and design features as the SpaceShip Two. However, this one might have a different color scheme than the former spaceship and different sounds and lighting options.
Virgin already unveiled the cabin design for the SpaceShip Two, with an interior that includes several reclining seats that will keep astronauts more comfortable. This feature will come in particularly handy during the G-force acceleration. In addition, the chairs also have enough space between them to ensure enough room for those on board to move around in a weightless environment. Details such as cabin doors, windows, and mood lighting have been incorporated to provide a seamless experience for civilian astronauts.
Virgin has also shown a commitment to bettering the design for the SpaceShip Three. Earlier this year, it announced that it had hired Joe Rohde, a veteran at the Walt Disney Company, to act as a strategic advisor and help create the space experience for future Virgin Galactic customers. There is a high probability that his work will begin with providing a better in-flight experience on the SpaceShip Three.
A rollout of the SpaceShip Three is expected on March 30. From there, the ship will undergo ground tests in the summer. When the ground tests are through, Virgin Galactic will run four powered flights with the spaceship. This step will help show the rocket's viability and also help Virgin Galactic with further revenue generation. Part of the funds generated in this process will go towards building several of the other planned rockets in the company's fleet.
The Future Remains Bright
While Virgin Galactic's stock performance might still be riddled with doubt, long-term investors remain confident that the company will be able to make good gains.
The company's hopes for space flight will take years to materialize, at least, but it will definitely begin raking in the cash once these flights start. At that point, its stock should see significant jumps.