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Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (SPCE) successfully launches the first crewed spaceflight

On Sunday, Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (SPCE) successfully launched the world’s first tourist into space. Virgin Galactic, which plans to make space tourism affordable, saw their shares rise 217% in the two months preceding the event. It was a historic day for both the space industry and Virgin Galactic (SPCE), established by British billionaire Richard Branson in 2004.

Virgin Galactic Unity was launched from New Mexico with Branson and a team of professionals on board. After reaching an altitude of 86 km and a speed of Mach 3 or about 3700 km per hour, the spaceplane successfully returned to earth.

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The Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (SPCE) flight can be described as a dream come true of space travel, and it marks the first success in the space tourism industry for Virgin Galactic.

The subject of science fiction has become a reality, and another tourist flight into space is expected by the end of this month. Blue Origin will launch its first tourists into space with its founder Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon (AMZN)).

Elon Musk (founder of Tesla (TSLA)), the third participant in the space tourism sector, plans to launch its first fully civilian crew (without Musk) into orbit in September.

Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (SPCE) says it will perform at least two more test space flights before starting regular commercial operations in 2022.  Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said 600 customers have already booked tickets costing about $250,000 each. Founder Richard Branson hopes to eventually lower the ticket price to $40,000 as the company expands services and realizes economies of scale.

Virgin Galactic will deploy each spacecraft about 36 times every year once it is commissioned. It is estimated that the company’s annual revenue could be around $54 million based on six seats per flight.

Analysts predict that Virgin Galactic’s sales will reach about $3 million in 2021, $51 million in 2022, and $555 million by 2025. Branson’s space company is unprofitable today, but analysts expect it to become profitable and cash-flow positive by 2024.

While Virgin Galactic shares have risen 152.8% year-over-year, the young company’s shares are highly volatile: after a sharp rise in early 2021, there was a similar decline, caused by the postponement of the flight and investor disappointment.

Moreover, two months before the flight on Sunday, Virgin Galactic shares rose 217%; this gain was also facilitated by the company’s receipt of a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in June, which led to an increase of almost 40% in one day.

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