SpaceShipTwo “Unity” on the runway after an aborted spaceflight test on Dec. 12, 2020.
Virgin Galactic is preparing for its next spaceflight attempt, with the company announcing on Monday that it will redo its aborted December flight test as early as Feb. 13.
The space tourism company said one of the spaceflight tests’ key objectives “will be to test the remedial work that has been completed since … the onboard computer halted ignition of the rocket motor.”
“The team has since conducted the root cause analysis, completed the corrective work required, and carried out extensive ground testing. The next stage will be to assess and verify this work during a rocket-powered flight,” Virgin Galactic said in a press release.
Shares of Virgin Galactic jumped to close up 21.5% in trading on Monday at $53.79 a share, an all-time closing high for the stock according to FactSet.
The gain came despite a downgrade by Morgan Stanley on Monday to equal weight from overweight. In a note to clients, analyst Adam Jonas said the stock price nearly doubled in the last month.
Virgin Galactic will also be aiming for each of the original objectives of the December flight attempt, “including evaluating elements of the customer cabin, testing the live stream capability from the spaceship to the ground, and assessing the upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls during the boost phase of the flight,” the company said.
After the flight test, Virgin Galactic said it will “complete an extensive data review” to “inform the next steps in the test flight program.” Prior to the aborted December flight, Virgin Galactic had expected to conduct three remaining spaceflight tests before it began commercial flights. The second and third spaceflight tests were previously planned for the first quarter of 2021.
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