Virgin Galactic stumbles again

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Sir Richard Branson’s passenger-carrying and satellite launching space plane Virgin Galactic is again postponing its entry into commercial service.

On February 25th it announced greater than expected losses on a year’s trading. It reported a net loss of $73 million for the quarter on quarterly revenues of just $529,000. Consensus from analysts was for a $55 million loss.

Despite not yet having delivered a low-orbital flight for a paying passenger, Virgin Galactic said that demand for a space flight was “surging” and it would be releasing more tickets for its experience. It wants $1000 per passenger as a refundable deposit although it does not quote the overall cost per passenger for a ticket other than to say that at $300,000 per passenger the 8000 “registrations of interest” would be worth $2.4 billion in revenue.

The Branson-backed company is now publicly quoted, hence the release of key financial data.

Company chairman Chamath Palihapitiya said Virgin Galactic as a business is making amazing progress. However, the company’s timeline for beginning commercial operations appears to have again been pushed back. The company told investors ahead of its October stock debut that commercial flights would begin in the first or second quarter of this year, setting a target for 16 flights in 2020.

But that schedule has again slipped with CEO George Whitesides telling shareholders that the company’s main goal this year is to safely fly founder Branson to space.


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