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SPCE Stock Rockets Ahead Of Virgin Galactic Launch; How To Watch The Commercial Space Flight

Virgin Galactic  -- (SPCE) The first commercial spaceflight for Virgin Galactic blasts off early Thursday, a long-awaited milestone for the space tourism company founded by billionaire Richard Branson in 2004. SPCE stock rocketed Wednesday ahead of the mission.

The first Virgin Galactic (SPCE) spaceflight, dubbed Galactic 01, is scheduled to take flight on June 29 at 11 a.m. EDT. The VSS Unity rocket plane will launch out of Spaceport America in New Mexico, which hosts Virgin Galactic's commercial hub.

Three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy, a Virgin Galactic instructor and two pilots, will embark on the 90-minute scientific research mission.  The crew plans to conduct microgravity research through 13 suborbital experiments at the edge of space.

A livestream of the flight will be available on Virgin Galactic's website.

Future Flights

Virgin Galactic completed its fifth and final VSS Unity test flight on May 25 after first unveiling the spacecraft in 2016.

A successful mission would mark a milestone toward its goal of flying regular commercial spaceflights.

Virgin Galactic plans to launch its Galactic 02 mission in early August with private astronauts on board. Monthly commercial spaceflights are planned thereafter, the company said.

Virgin Galactic currently charges $450,000 per spaceflight according to its website. It has a backlog of 800 passengers queued for flights, CNBC previously reported.

Commercial Space Race

Tech billionaires including Amazon (AMZN) founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk's SpaceX and Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen's Stratolaunch Systems are all competing in the private commercial space race.

Blue Origin expects to resume launches for its New Shepard suborbital vehicle in the next few weeks once it receives FAA approval following a failure during a September 2022 payload-only flight.

SpaceX conducted its most recent Starlink mission on May 23 for its Falcon 9 rocket and lists 242 total launches on its website. Meanwhile, Musk is seeking a $150 billion valuation for SpaceX in a new sale of employee shares at $81 each, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

SPCE stock rocketed more than 9% Wednesday to 4.74 ahead of the Thursday morning launch.

Shares tumbled 18.4% last Friday after Virgin Galactic filed to raise $400 million through a common stock offering. The company noted it also completed an "at the market" offering for $300 million in a separate filing Thursday. Virgin Galactic said it plans to use the funds to develop its spaceship fleet and scale up for commercial operations.

SPCE stock remain well below its 52-week high of 8.25 from August and trading at a fraction of its all-time high 62.80 from February 2021. Still, Virgin Galactic stock soared 39% so far this year.


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