September 28, 2023

Virgin Galactic pilots head to the company’s SpaceShipTwo Unity spacecraft, which is attached to the Eve jet carrier aircraft.

Virgo Galactic

Virgin Galactic’s shares rose when the Federal Aviation Administration announced that the company’s next space flight test was due to start on Saturday.

An FAA notice released Thursday said the airspace around Virgin Galactic’s operations base at Spaceport America, New Mexico would be restricted to space operations from Saturday at 9:00 a.m. ET through Sunday at 6:00 p.m. ET.

A Virgin Galactic spokesman confirmed to CNBC that the company is “making good progress with our flight preparations,” noting that attempting to fly is subject to weather and technical readiness.

Virgin Galactic’s stock rose 13% in trading to close at $ 59.41 per share.

The space test is a repeat of the December attempt, which the company abandoned in mid-launch. Virgin Galactic spent two months analyzing the cause of the demolition and conducting soil tests. The test flight should review “the corrective actions completed”.

While there will only be two pilots on board, the flight is expected to be the first of three in a row as the company plans to complete development of its spacecraft system.

Virgin Galactic will pursue each of the original goals of the December flight test, “including evaluating elements of the customer cabin, testing the ability to live stream from the spaceship to the ground, and evaluating the improved horizontal stabilizers and flight controls during the boost phase of the flight” said the company.

Following the flight test, Virgin Galactic said it would “conduct a comprehensive data review” to provide “information on the next steps in the flight test program.”

The stock has more than doubled since early 2021, which resulted in UBS lowering its rating for the stock to neutral earlier this week. UBS said in a notice to clients that “we are aware of a rating that appears full”, although upcoming test flights form an appealing “catalyst chain”.

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