Illustration by Elias Stein
Sir Richard Branson’s space-flight company,
Virgin Galactic, has long talked about space tourism as a viable business. Now, it’s about to happen. The company announced on Tuesday that ticket sales for flights will begin for the general public. Of course, you’ll need serious cash just to get in line for a Virgin Galactic ride.
Booking a 90-minute space jaunt is as simple as going to virgingalactic.com and starting the application process. You’ll need a $150,000 deposit for a $450,000 trip. That means 1,000 customers would produce $450 million in sales—though Wall Street projects the company will generate only about $8 million in 2022. It’ll take a while to get the scale to send 1,000 tourists aloft.
Investors didn’t seem to care—at first. Virgin Galactic stock blasted off by 32% on the announcement to $10.75 a share, but came back to earth, to $8.40, down four cents for the week. The
fell 1.6% on the week.
The start of commercial space tourism has been years in the works. Branson took a suborbital jaunt in July 2021; the shares hit a 52-week high in June, then slid more than 80%. It didn’t help that flight testing was delayed in October after the company embarked on a “vehicle enhancement” program, following some tests.
Last week, CEO Michael Colglazier said in a press release that Virgin expected to have its first 1,000 customers by the start of commercial service. That should, in theory, generate about $150 million in working capital. But hitting 1,000 isn’t as hard as it seems, or as lucrative: Virgin had gathered reservations over much of the decade, and had sold some 700 of the 1,000 by the end of November.
Stock and fixed-income markets are closed in observance of Presidents Day.
Palo Alto Networks, Public Storage, and Realty Income release earnings.
IHS Markit releases its Manufacturing and Services Purchasing Managers’ Indexes for February. Consensus estimates are for a 56 reading for the Manufacturing PMI and a 52.2 for the Services PMI. This compares with 55.5 and 51.2, respectively, in January. The January Services PMI was the lowest reading since July 2020.
The Conference Board releases its Consumer Confidence Index for February. Economists forecast a 110.8 reading, roughly three points less than the January data.
TJX Cos. report quarterly results.
The General Assembly of the United Nations holds a meeting to debate the ongoing tensions in Ukraine.
Cummins holds its 2022 analyst day.
The BEA reports its second estimate of fourth-quarter 2021 gross domestic product. Economists forecast a 5.9% seasonally adjusted annual growth rate, one percentage less than the advance estimate of 6.9%.
CBRE Group, Coinbase Global,
Royal Bank of Canada, and
VMware release earnings.
The Census Bureau reports new-home sales for January. Expectations are for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 792,000 new single-family houses sold, 19,000 fewer than in December.
Liberty Media, and
Sempra Energy hold conference calls to discuss quarterly results.
The Census Bureau releases the January durable-goods report. Consensus estimate is for new orders for manufactured durable goods to rise 1% month over month to $270.3 billion.
The National Association of Realtors releases its Pending Home Sales index for January. In December, pending home sales fell 3.8%, the second consecutive month of declines. Rising mortgage rates and record-high home prices have taken some of the wind out of the housing market.
The BEA reports personal income and spending for January. Income is expected to decline 0.3% month over month, while expenditures are seen rising 1.4%.
Write to Al Root at email@example.com