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Virgin Galactic says commercial spaceflight is on track for the second quarter

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Virgin Galactic stuck to plans to start commercial spaceflight in the middle of next year, bolstering the company.

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. stuck to plans to start commercial spaceflight by the middle of next year, bolstering the company even as preparations remain a drain on its cash.

The space tourism company has several test flights scheduled in the coming months before a planned launch in the second quarter, according to a statement Thursday. The disclosure came as Virgin Galactic reported third-quarter sales that beat estimates.

The company, founded by businessman Richard Branson, has grappled with supply chain disruptions and labor restrictions as it moves toward commercial service debut. It had planned to start passenger flights into space this year, but has delayed launch plans several times, most recently targeting the second quarter of 2023.

Virgin Galactic also said Thursday that it expected a negative $120 million to negative $130 million in free cash flow in the fourth quarter, worse than the average analyst estimate of a $114 million burn.

The stock bounced between gains and losses in late New York trading, rising 1.5% at 4:34 p.m. close.

It has been more than a year since Virgin Galactic successfully flew Branson to the edge of space and back on the company’s space plane, VSS Unity. Virgin Galactic has not flown any flights into space since that trip.

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