Virgin Galactic again delays space tourism flights, to second quarter 2023

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Carrier aircraft VMS Eve takes off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, carrying spacecraft VSS Unity on July 11, 2021.
Virgin Galactic

Space tourism company Virgin Galactic on Thursday postponed the beginning of its commercial flights by another three months, citing delays in work refurbishing its carrier aircraft.

Virgin Galactic announced that commercial service is being pushed back to the second quarter of 2023, the latest setback for the debut of its space tourism business. The company had previously pushed back the date from the fourth quarter of this year to the first quarter of next year.

Its stock dropped more than 10% in after-hours trading from its close of $8.19 a share. The stock is down more than 70% over the past 12 months.

The company currently has one carrier aircraft, or “mothership,” called VMS Eve, which is about 14 years old and is undergoing a lengthy refurbishment. The jet-powered mothership plays a key role in Virgin Galactic’s flights by carrying the company’s spacecraft up to about 50,000 feet altitude for launch.

Virgin Galactic reported a second-quarter adjusted EBITDA loss of $93 million, wider than the loss of $77 million in the previous quarter. The company has $1.1 billion in cash on hand. It also said it plans to sell up to $300 million in common stock, which the company said is intended to add “financial flexibility going forward.”

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