Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) stock fell following flight schedule uncertainty. The company revealed Monday that its upcoming test flight is under review after having initially promised that tests were due this month. Ultimately, the start to its commercial flights is set to be delayed once again.
Repairs on the VSS Unity are now complete and the spaceplane is prepared to commence pre-flight operations. However, on a conference call management disclosed a potential issue with the Eve mothership that carries the spaceplane to high altitude.
“We will report back to the market next week with an update on schedule implications to our next flight,” Virgin Galactic president of space missions and safety Mike Moses said during the company’s conference call.
Virgin Galactic’s stock plummeted as much as 20% during trading. The stock was halted by the NYSE for a period of five minutes amid the volatility moments after the open.
A flight test for SpaceShipTwo was set to happen this month following a previous flight cancellation due to modifications. The test in question is the last step needed to earn the data points required for the company to receive FAA approval.
Management detailed that after the next test flight, the following flight will include two pilots with a full cabin of internal spaceflight participants. The third flight will involve founder Richard Branson, with sales of private astronauts to begin around the same time. And the last of the test flight program will include Italian Air Force to demonstrate Virgin Galactic’s capabilities.
According to Virgin Galactic, the research flight with Italian Air Force will produce USD2 Million in revenue or about USD500,000 per seat. The company hopes to launch its first commercial flight by 2022.