virgin galactic

Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) stock rose over 7% yesterday and is sharply higher in early US price action today also after the company reaffirmed the Q2 2023 timeline for its space travel flight and also shook its top management team.

Swami Iyer, President of the company’s Aerospace Systems departed from the position effective yesterday. He would however continue as an advisor to CEO Michael Colglazier until March 3 in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Commenting on the changes, Virgin Galactic said, “The organizational changes will support the Company’s core near-term objectives of delivering increased flight frequency and executing on rapid fleet development plans.”

Colglazier added, “With the completion of the enhancement program for our mothership at hand, our streamlined leadership structure will help propel the business forward as we prepare for commercial spaceline operations.”

Virgin Galactic was founded by billionaire Sir Richard Branson. The company went public in late 2019 through a reverse merger with one of Chamath Palihapitiya’s SPAC. Virgin was incidentally the first company to go public with a Palihapitiya SPAC.

Between 2020 and 2021, SPACs backed by Palihapitiya took Opendoor, SoFi, and Clover Health also public. However, amid the sell-off in newly listed stocks, all these stocks trade below the SPAC IPO price of $10.

Palihapitiya eventually dissolved two of his SPACs last year amid the tough market conditions. The US IPO market was dead last year after a strong 2021. However, many private companies are looking to list in 2023. We have a guide on some of the most awaited IPOs in 2023.

Virgin Galactic Rises After It Confirms Q2 2023 Launch Timeline

Virgin Galactic has been marred by delays to commercial operations. At the same time, the company has been raising cash to fund its cash burn. The launch was initially expected in the third quarter of 2022 but Virgin Galactic has pushed the deadline multiple times.

In August last year, SPCE said that it would delay the launch of commercial operations to the second quarter of 2023. It simultaneously announced a $300 million capital raise which led to the crash in its stock. Virgin Galactic was once quite popular among meme stock traders. There is a list of some of the meme stocks.

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic has confirmed that the commercial operations “are on track” for launch in the second quarter of 2023.

SPCE Partnered with Boeing in 2022

Last year, Virgin Galactic announced a deal with Aurora Flight Sciences, a subsidiary of Boeing. The two companies would partner to design and manufacture Virgin’s next-generation mothership.

The aircraft would be manufactured at Aurora’s Columbus, Mississippi, and Bridgeport, West Virginia facilities. However, the final assembly would be done at Virgin Galactic’s facility in Mojave, California.

Virgin Galactic soared to record highs in 2021 amid the meme stock mania. Most meme stocks crashed in 2022 even as some of the fundamentally strong names on the Reddit group WallStreetBets have held up relatively well.

Virgin Galactic Stock is Rising on Optimism over Commercial Launch

The stock has been in freefall after it peaked in 2021 ahead of its maiden test flight. Notably, the US Federal Aviation Admiration investigated the company’s flight over reports of a mishap and halted its commercial operations.

The FAA later cleared the company and allowed it to resume commercial operations. However, over the last year, there has been a sell-off in growth names, and Virgin Galactic stock lost around 70% last year.

The recent rise in stock is a welcome break for investors but investors might keep their fingers crossed before Virgin Galactic starts its commercial operations.

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