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It is not yet clear how many SpaceShip III vehicles the company will produce. However, it is obvious that its VSS Imagine is unique. As soon as this summer, it will start “glide” testing.
Richard Branson‘s spaceflight company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) has unclosed the details on its second piloted SpaceShip III craft called VSS Imagine. According to the company, the new spaceplane will “enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate”.
Richard Branson commented:
“As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea.”
He further added:
“Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”
VSS Imagine by Virgin Galactic
In essence, VSS Imagine is the third spacecraft the company developed but the first one in its SpaceShip III generation. Back in 2014, Virgin Galactic had a bad experience of a fatal test flight of its VSS Enterprise. Another space ship, VSS Unity, succeeded, with the most recent flight in 2019. According to Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier, VSS Imagine was designed with a more “modular” approach in comparison with the previous generation. Virgin Galactic took into consideration all the mistakes and lessons from the background experience.
“Generally what we learned in Unity through flight tests got embedded in this SpaceShip III class.”
It is not yet clear how many SpaceShip III vehicles the company will produce. However, it is obvious that VSS Imagine is unique. With its “modular design”, VSS Imagine improves a turnaround time, both in terms of manufacturing the spaceship and the maintenance needed between each flight. As soon as this summer, VSS Imagine will start “glide” testing which implies dropping mid-air from the carrier plane to glide back to land.
SPCE Stock Rises on the Spacecraft Launch News
Following the company’s announcement, its stock jumped on Tuesday to close 3.18% up at $30.14 per share. After hours, it slightly cooled down, losing 0.13%.
Looking forward to analysts’ estimation for Virgin Galactic stock, Wall Street remains bullish on the company. On March 17, Truist Securities gauged SPCE stock as a buy with a $50 price target. Analyst Michael Ciarmoli expects Virgin Galactic to “capture at least 50% of the global space tourism total available market by 2030.”
Seven other analysts offer the average price target for Virgin Galactic shares at $32.00 within the next 12 months. The highest analysts’ average target for the SPCE stock forecast is $40.00 and the lowest one is $19.00. The company currently has a “hold” rating among analysts. This rating has remained steady since March when it was downgraded from a buy rating.
Virgin Galactic’s market cap has totaled $7.43 billion. Year-to-date, it is 27.01% up.