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Virgin Galactic updates investors on next flight, new fleet


An investigation into the loss of a pin during Virgin Galactic’s most recent flight to the edge of space over New Mexico is not expected to require design changes or delays as the spaceliner company develops a new fleet of spaceships, president of operations Mike Moses said during an investor call Tuesday. An alignment pin fell from the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, during the January 26 mission from Spaceport America in Sierra County. Moses said the investigation was currently in a “corrective action” phase, adding that the issue did not present any safety risk during the flight.

Moses, along with CEO Michael Colglazier, said the company was moving ahead with plans for its seventh mission during the second quarter of 2024. Meanwhile, a new fleet of the company’s space plane is in development at a manufacturing facility in Pheonix, Ariz., with plans to begin testing next year and commence commercial service in 2026.

The Delta fleet spacecraft will include more seating for passengers and be able to fly missions more often with quicker inspections and preparations between flights, allowing each craft to fly eight times per month as the company plans to launch 300 flights per month at a projected revenue of $1 billion once the operation is scaled up.

The mission this year, dubbed Galactic 07, is projected to generate $800,000 in revenue per seat, with a manifest comprising private commercial passengers and researchers.

Ticket sales are not currently open, but Colglazier said the price has increased to $600,000 and would remain at least that high when sales resume.

“Our astronaut journey is delivering an incomparable life experience,” Colglazier said during the call.

As part of that business plan, Colglazier told investors Virgin Galactic will explore operations at multiple spaceports worldwide, while refining its operation in New Mexico. He said the facility, located outside Truth or Consequences, had the capacity for them to expand operations there as well. He projected that relationships with a second spaceport could come to fruition by 2029.

Virgin Galactic flew six flights in six months during 2023, but has also operated at a loss for years as it develops its technology and flight operations in preparation for regular commercial service for space tourism as well as research.

The company saw $6.8 million in revenue during 2023, while its operating expenses reached $538 million. Although it has recently shut down operations for an extended maintenance period and laid off staff, company executives said the company has enough cash on hand, nearly $1 billion, to continue into 2026, and expected more investment capital to come.

This was in answer to news in December that Virgin Galactic’s founder, Richard Branson, was not planning to invest further in the company.

Virgin Galactic, Investors