Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group Ltd., speaks during an interview following Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.’s initial public offering (IPO) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Shares of Virgin Galactic surged higher in Tuesday trading but some of the positive momentum appears to be a case of mistaken identity.
Virgin Galactic’s stock has been a favorite among speculative traders, especially in the final few months of the bull market earlier this year. It’s also been prone to volatile swings and, on Tuesday, it rose alongside other technology stocks. But Virgin Galactic shares jumped even higher in midday trading, after a headline noted that similarly-named Virgin Orbit had won a government contract.
Space tourism venture Virgin Galactic does not have any ownership or stake in Virgin Orbit, a company that is developing rockets to launch small satellites. Additionally, while Virgin Galactic is publicly-traded, Virgin Orbit was spun-off in 2017 and is privately held by Sir Richard Branson’s multinational conglomerate Virgin Group.
Virgin Orbit on Friday announced that the U.S. Space Force selected the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary VOX Space to launch three missions worth a total $35 million. Virgin Galactic will not see a material benefit from Virgin Orbit’s Space Force contract as it is a separate company. The only significant updates Virgin Galactic has made in the past two weeks have been related to its coronavirus relief efforts, such as the COVID-19 task force it helped put together in California to produce things like medical oxygen hoods.
Virgin Galactic shares rose as much as 31%, which would be its largest single day gain since its market debut last October.
Here are the fundamental differences in the company’s technologies.
Virgin Galactic’s human-carrying spacecraft
Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft outside Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Virgin Orbit’s flying rocket launch platform
Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, with a rocket under the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, takes off for a key drop test of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, July 10, 2019.
Mike Blake | Reuters
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