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Virgin Galactic stock craters after commercial flights are delayed



Shares fell more than 20% in premarket trading in New York afterwards Virgin Galactic (SPCE) he said he was making schedule changes that would delay a crucial test flight and the start of commercial services, which was expected to begin in the late third quarter of 2022.

Virgin Galactic said it will focus on an “improvement program” to improve the performance of its VSS Unity rocket-powered aircraft and the parent ship from which it launches. It will also perform physical inspections after a laboratory test “marks a possible reduction in the margins of resistance of certain materials.”

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“While this new laboratory test data has had no impact on vehicles, our test flight protocols have clearly defined margins of force and a subsequent analysis will assess whether additional work needs to be done to keep them at the levels. established or above, ”the company said in a statement.

The company said a test flight, Unity 23, which had been expected as early as this month will also be delayed. The flight will carry three members of the crew of the Italian Air Force and the country’s National Investigation Council.

“Our decisions are based on a detailed and thorough analysis and we want to be based on the most accurate and complete data available,” Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said in a statement.

“Sequencing our upgrade period and Unity 23 flight underscores our security procedures, provides the most efficient path to commercial service, and is the right approach for our business and our customers,” he added.

Virgin Galactic said the delays are unrelated to its recent probe into a possible defect in a vendor component. He said this issue has been resolved.

Branson he became the first person to travel into space aboard a rocket they helped fund in July, traveling with three crew members. Days later he was followed into space by a fellow billionaire and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.