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Again no test flight: Virgin Galactic’s aircraft has to go to the workshop

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The British-American space company Virgin Galactic is still not getting going. For the first three months of the year, the company did nothing, posting $ 81 million in operating loss and $ 130 million in net loss. On Monday, Virgin Galactic also postponed a test flight scheduled for May indefinitely.

Virgin Galactics’ shares are getting less and less worth. The price had already fallen by 8.5 percent in regular trading on Monday; to Announcement of the quarterly results it put an additional minus of 9.2 percent in after-hours trading to finally $ 16.30. Should this rate be confirmed on Tuesday, that would be a price decline of around three quarters since the high in February.

After all, the share price is still well above the opening price at the end of October 2019 ($ 12.34). The cash reserves should also hold for a few more quarters. They fell from $ 666 million to $ 617 million in the three months of the first quarter. A year ago, in the first quarter of 2020, Virgin Galactic had sales of $ 238,000, with an operating loss of $ 61 million and a net loss of $ 377 million. Since then, Virgin Galactic has not implemented anything.

The last test flight was dated December and it was not satisfactory. Back then, electromagnetic interference caused a control computer to crash just as the rocket engines were about to fire. The pilots were lucky and were able to sail the vehicle back to earth without an engine.

The next date was February 13, but the interference had not yet been resolved. So Virgin Galactic postponed its space flights again. The test flight should be repeated in May.

Nothing will come of that, as the company admitted on Monday evening. This time she cites necessary maintenance work on the carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo as the reason, but cannot yet give an alternative date. A new timetable is to be presented next week.

Company founder Richard Branson announced 17 years ago that, starting in 2007, he would be offering commercial flights that would take you into space for a few minutes. Hundreds of people have already booked or at least paid a deposit. Several start dates have passed unfulfilled. The decades of waiting led to some cancellations, but around 600 applicants have not yet asked for their money back. The tourist flights are to start from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic rents a terminal.

Virgin Galactic cites the extension of a car rental contract with an Indian car company, the establishment of an advisory working group and the presentation of the VSS Imagine as the highlights of the first quarter of 2021. The main difference between the new space glider and its predecessor is its reflective coating.


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