Virgin Galactic pushes back start of commercial space flights

Travel advisors dreaming of a big commission check from selling tickets to space have just one more cancellation to deal with.

Virgin Galactic on Oct. 14 announced that it is postponing a flight carrying members of the Italian Air Force on Unity 23 until next summer, and beginning an “enhancement program” that will remove its vehicles from service for 8 to 10 months.

Virgin Galactic had three more flights scheduled: Unity 23, Unity 24 and Unity 25. The company said it aims to start commercial service, which the Unity 25 mission was expected to represent, in the fourth quarter of 2022.

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Bank of America lowered its price target for Virgin Galactic to $20 a share from $25 per share and maintained its underperform rating on the stock, citing “increased uncertainty and lack of clarity” from the company around the change.

But Canaccord Genuity kept its $48-per-share price target and buy rating, saying it does not view the schedule change as significant in affecting the company’s “long time-horizon space tourism plans.”

Agreed Jefferies analyst Greg Konrad in a note to investors, “We continue to believe that commercial space tourism will be a flourishing industry, unlocking profitability and cash flow for Virgin Galactic.”

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