Galactic 01: First Commercial Flight Completed. So, Why Are Virgin Galactic’s Stocks Falling?3rd Jul 2023
Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by Sir Richard Branson, completed Galactic 01 on Thursday, 29th June. This is the company’s long-awaited first commercial spaceflight that opens a new phase of space tourism.
Success for Galactic 01 after years of setbacks
The commercial spaceflight took off from New Mexico’s Spaceport America. A pair of pilots were at the helm, with four passengers on board.
The passengers included three paying customers, who are members of the Italian Air Force, as well as a Virgin Galactic trainer to oversee the mission from inside the cabin.
Aside from this, 13 research payloads were onboard the flight.
Some thought we’d never see the day Virgin Galactic launched a commercial flight
Some people were starting to fear that Virgin Galactic’s commercial service would never materialise after years of setbacks and delays.
The company has said that it will fly a second mission as soon as August if Galactic 01 was a success. After this, it would aim to fly VSS Unity, its spacecraft, once every month. It remains to be seen whether they’ll keep to this schedule.
The backlog of passengers, standing at approximately 800-strong, will hope the company does.
A lot of these passengers purchased tickets over a decade ago, costing them between $200,000 and $250,000.
Prices have since increased, and considerably so. When Virgin Galactic reopened ticket sales two years ago, prices started at $450,000 per seat.
Despite this success, Virgin Galactic’s stocks are falling
Although Thursday was a day of huge success for the company, Virgin Galactic’s stock fell by 10%.
Well, a lot of experts believe the math simply isn’t adding up.
Virgin Galactic is spending way more on operating costs in comparison to the revenue being made.
The solution: build more spacecraft
Virgin Galactic are optimistic that their new Delta class of spaceplanes will rectify this issue. Such spacecraft will be able to fly as often as once per week.
If Virgin Galactic can build a sufficient number of them, there’s a chance for the company to become profitable.
Unfortunately, we don’t expect any of these new spacecraft to be ready until 2026, so the immediate future looks like losses upon losses for Richard Branson’s company.