The VMS Eve carrier aircraft releases the VSS Unity spacecraft before firing its rocket engine during the Unity 25 spaceflight on May 25, 2023.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic plans to end spaceflight operations next year to focus resources on developing its next-generation Delta-class spacecraft, the company announced Wednesday.

Virgin Galactic shares rose as much as 30% from the previous closing price of $1.56 per share on heavy trading volume on Thursday. As of Wednesday, the stock had fallen 55% year to date.

Although Virgin Galactic has been operating monthly commercial missions since June, the space tourism company will reduce the flight frequency of its VSS Unity spacecraft to a quarter before taking a break in “mid-2024” to focus resources on the final assembly of new Delta ships, it announced Company announced in its third quarter results.

Virgin Galactic on Tuesday laid off about 185 employees, or about 18% of its workforce, to “reduce its costs and strategically realign its resources.” The reduction brings Virgin Galactic’s total workforce to 840 employees and is expected to result in annual cost savings of approximately $25 million.

The space tourism company reported a net loss of $104.6 million, or 28 cents per share, compared with an expected loss of 43 cents per share, according to analysts surveyed by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv.

Virgin Galactic had revenue of $1.7 million in the quarter, up from $767,000 a year earlier. Earlier this month, Virgin Galactic completed its fifth commercial spaceflight.

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The company has invested heavily in expanding its fleet beyond its current single spacecraft, VSS Unity. Virgin Galactic is developing its Delta-class spacecraft to fly at an improved weekly rate. The company plans to open a new factory for Delta production in Phoenix by mid-2024.

“We expect to have sufficient capital to place our first two Delta ships into service and achieve positive cash flow in 2026,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement.

Virgin Galactic had cash and securities totaling $1.1 billion at the end of the quarter.

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