Virgin Galactic Falls After Space-Flight Delay Due to Covid

A Virgin Galactic space flight set for Nov. 19-23 in New Mexico was delayed in accordance with new covid guidelines from the state.
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Virgin Galactic (SPCE) shares fell on Monday after the space-travel company said that a scheduled flight from New Mexico would be delayed due to the pandemic.

“Virgin, in accordance with new guidelines from the New Mexico Department of Health to disrupt the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the state, today announced that it will be minimizing its operational footprint at its New Mexico facilities,” the company, founded and partly owned by the U.K. entrepreneur Richard Branson, said in a statement.

“In consultation with government officials, and as a result of these new operations restrictions, the space flight that was planned to occur between November 19-23 will be rescheduled.” The company said it will reschedule a new test-flight window as soon as it can.

Virgin’s operations base sits at Spaceport America in south-central New Mexico, north of Las Cruces, while its manufacturing and development activity is in California’s Mojave Desert.

Virgin shares recently traded at $20.24, down 9.2%. They have soared 78% year to date.

Last month, Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak began coverage of the company with a neutral rating. Poponak pegged his share-price target at $19, below the estimates of all other analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Virgin Galactic hopes to lead the pack for private space travel, which could be a lucrative market. But “time to realization of the opportunity is very long, customer adoption and recurrence uncertain, and potential for competition not insignificant,” Poponak wrote in a commentary cited by Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX successfully launched the Crew Dragon spacecraft Sunday, carrying astronauts from the U.S. and Japan toward the International Space Station.