Virgin Galactic (SPCE) - Get Virgin Galactic Report shares soared on Monday after the company successfully completed its first space flight in more than two years, taking it a step closer to offering regular commercial trips into outer space.
Virgin Galactic shares surged after the company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson on Saturday conducted a test flight from Spaceport America, New Mexico, into space and back for the first time in more than two years.
The successful mission not only provided revenue-generating scientific research experiments for NASA, it also collected key data for the Federal Aviation Administration - something Virgin Galactic needs to gain a federal commercial reusable spacecraft operator’s license.
It also put Virgin Galactic back on its stated schedule of flying Branson to suborbital space as early as this summer, and for resuming ticket sales.
“We view this event as a major milestone,” Truist Securities analyst Michael Ciarmoli said in a research note, adding that the flight enables the company to commence revenue generating commercial flights in early 2022.
Ciarmoli has a buy rating on Virgin Galactic and a one-year price target of $50.
Virgin Galactic will process the data gained from the test flight as it prepares its next trip. The data will also be used for needed "verification reports" required as part of the FAA’s commercial reusable spacecraft operator’s license program.
The trip was the 400th FAA-licensed launch to safely leave Earth, wrote the FAA's head, Steve Dickson on Twitter, touting the safety record.
At last check, shares of Virgin Galactic were up 14.11% at $24.02 after surging as much as 36% in premarket trading. The stock is still down some 60% since mid-February.